Army raises defences over alleged racism

A case of major significance over alleged bullying and racial harassment in the armed forces is set to return to the High Court on 30 January.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) was engaged in a two-day legal offensive last week before Deputy Judge Griffith Williams QC in a bid to block moves by an ex-marine who is suing the MoD for damages of up to £750,000.

Former marine Mark Parchment claims that racist bullying forced him to flee the forces. The case has already revealed some of the worst allegations of racism ever to be made against the armed forces.

Parchment says that when he joined the service he was abused, assaulted and subjected to a humiliating 'blacks only' initiation ceremony.

He says his misery began in 1988 when he was posted to a commando training centre at Lympstone in Devon, for nine months of training. He alleges that his section corporal said he was to be called 'Badingi' and that, after this, all members of his training team, including officers, called him Badingi and not by his real name.

He says he was also made to carry a spear on parade which he had to clean and present for inspection as if it was his rifle.

Parchment says he was constantly subjected to racist taunts and alleges that during the initiation ceremony, which took place after he had been posted to Arbroath in Scotland, he was attacked by a gang of marines with scissors and a razor who cut away lumps of hair and skin from his head, shaved his pubic hair and threw a bucket of urine on his bed.

He claims that on another occasion he was 'crucified' in a hut by having his arms bound to roof beams with industrial adhesive tape. He was left to hang there unsupported while other recruits photographed him. The excuse given for the incident was that it was his birthday.

The MoD argues that Parchment's claim is 'time barred'. But solicitor advocate John Mackenzie, of Sheratte Caleb, who is representing Parchment says that the time in which his client was entitled to begin his action did not start to run until 1996 when he first realised the psychiatric effect of his treatment in the marines.