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Female Soldiers Receive 'Unwanted Sexual Attention', Document Reveals

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BRITISH ARMY
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Every female soldier questioned during an Army investigation said they had received "unwanted sexual attention" during their career, according to a leaked document.

The letter, obtained by Channel 4 News, also revealed the extent of bullying in the Army.

It was written by Major General John Lorimer, who was asked to outline his views on equality and diversity after speaking to 6,000 Army personnel - including 400 women - at 3rd (United Kingdom) Division based in Wiltshire.

Maj Gen Lorimer, writing to Adjutant General Lieutenant General Gerry Berragan, stated: "Every female officer or OR (other rank) that my Comd Sgt Maj (Command Sergeant Major) has spoken to claims to have been the subject of unwanted sexual attention.

"This is an unacceptable situation and one you might consider to be a future area of pan-Army focus."

The disclosure comes a year after the death of a military police officer who was found hanged after accusing two colleagues of rape.

Corporal Anne-Marie Ellement, 30, originally from Bournemouth, Dorset, was found hanged at Bulford Barracks in Wiltshire on October 9 last year.

An inquest in Salisbury in March recorded a verdict of suicide, but the High Court has ordered a fresh hearing following an application for judicial review by her sisters.

Khristina Swain, Cpl Ellement's sister, told Channel 4 News that she was bullied after making the rape complaint.

"I remember receiving a phone call from her from Germany and she was stuck in her room and she was absolutely in tears.

"She said to me 'it's awful, all the girls are outside, they're shouting things at me, I'm getting bullied. I'm too scared to actually come out of my room'."

Maj Gen Lorimer wrote in his letter that bullying was viewed as "acceptable" by some in the Army.

"There is still evidence from some that bullying - in all its manifestations - is perceived as acceptable. Some personnel have experienced physical bullying and have been involved in or witnessed this behaviour," he stated.

And he warned that issues of trust in the chain of command were preventing troops from making complaints.

"There is an over-riding sense that soldiers who believe that they have been treated unfairly are not inclined to report the fact because they lack trust that the chain of command will deal appropriately with the complaint," he wrote.

An Army spokesman said: "The British Army has a zero tolerance approach to all forms of harassment, bullying and discrimination.

"The letter obtained by Channel 4 demonstrates how determined the chain of command is to fulfil their responsibility to protect their soldiers from instances of unacceptable behaviour.

"The Army's values and standards are reinforced throughout military training, any reported infringements are investigated, and appropriate action taken, up to and including dismissal."