Recruits at Yorkshire army training base deny 'ordering soldiers to eat manure'

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Ten army instructors have denied a string of charges related to the alleged abuse of teenage recruits.

The non-commissioned officers face a total of 29 charges - 23 of ill-treatment and six of battery - relating to events said to have taken place over a nine-day period in June 2014.

It is alleged the defendants, who are all sergeants or corporals, ill-treated 12 recruits while instructors at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

The particulars of the ill-treatment charges allege the victims were slapped or punched to the face, spat at, were grabbed by the throat, had their faces submerged in mud or were ordered to eat animal manure.

The defendants are:

- Sergeant Simon Girault, of 1st Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, who is accused of four charges of battery and three of ill-treatment.

- Staff Sergeant Steven Harrison, of 3rd Regiment, Royal Horse Artillery, who is accused of one charge of battery and one of ill-treatment.

- Sergeant Thomas Bryan, of 2nd Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, who is accused of one charge of battery and one of ill-treatment.

- Staff Sergeant Brian Crawford, of 152 (North Irish) Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, who is accused of six charges of ill-treatment.

- Corporal Andrew Armitage, of 156 Regiment, The Royal Logistic Corps, who is accused of one charge of ill-treatment.

- Sergeant Mark Graham, of the HQ Defence Food Services School, Royal Logistic Corps, who is accused of four charges of ill-treatment.

- Acting Sergeant Steven Duncan, of 1st Battalion Scots Guards, who is accused of four charges of ill-treatment.

- Acting Sergeant Daniel Royle, of 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, who is accused of one charge of ill-treatment.

- Corporal Anthony Thomas, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, who is accused of one charge of ill-treatment.

- Acting Sergeant Robert Comley, of The Queen's Dragoon Guards, who is accused of one charge of ill-treatment.

The defendants spoke only to confirm their names and enter their not guilty pleas during a preliminary hearing at the court martial centre in Bulford, Wiltshire.

The court heard the court martial will begin on February 12 next year and is due to last around four weeks.

Assistant Judge Advocate General Alan Large released the defendants on unconditional bail.

The Army Foundation College accepts recruits aged 16 and 17 for initial training.

Alex Newman, partner at Irwin Mitchell in Leeds

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