Army instructors had 19 relationships with cadets before one took her life

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The British Army failed a ‘vulnerable’ cadet who died by suicide, a damning report found.

A Service Inquiry Panel into the death of Olivia Perks found a culture of alochol and affairs at the prestigious Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Ms Perks, 21, killed herself at the Berkshire training academy in February 2019 – and the many flings taking place there were counted by Ministry of Defence officials as a factor in her death.

Of the 30 trainees in her platoon, five were believed to be having flings with senior colleagues between 2018 and 2019 while 14 others took place between staff and other platoons.

Among them was Ms Perks, with panellists understanding she had an affair with a member of the Physical Training staff.

The more than 300-page report detailed how many of the relationships involved senior male instructors and the female cadets they supervised.

This was a well-known secret among officer cadets, the report noted, but was not known among the chain of command.

The report said: ‘This behaviour undermined the [chain of command] and was completely unacceptable within a training establishment, the rules and guidance in place at RMAS are designed to safeguard [cadets] and staff alike.

File photo dated 20/11/2006 of the Old Collage at The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. A female officer cadet has been found dead at the renowned academy in an apparent suicide. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday February 8, 2019. The unnamed 21-year-old was discovered in her room at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Berkshire, on Wednesday, according to reports. See PA story DEFENCE Sandhurst. Photo credit should read: Tim Ockenden/PA Wire
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Officer cadet Olivia Perks died by suicide just a day after she was given a talking down by her senior commanders (Picture: PA)

‘The panel are of the opinion that more than one relationship and numerous examples of inappropriate behaviour occurred within this intake. This adequately demonstrates that the staff were prepared to take the risk and contravene the rules and regulations.’

‘During 2018, 19 relationships occurred between staff and cadets. Other examples of inappropriate behaviour included a colour sergeant [instructor] boasting on parade of sexual relations with an officer cadet on the night of their commissioning.’

Panellists said that within the walls of Sandhurst, there was a ‘complete misunderstanding of values’, with academy alcohol policy rarely enforced and a ‘culture of staff fraternisation’.

Ms Perks, from Kingswinford, West Midlands, received little to no support when she committed deliberate self-harm while ‘heavily intoxicated’ on the morning of July 17, 2018, when she was off the facility.

A witness said: ‘I considered this to be a serious suicide attempt. I believe if I left her in the room unattended that night [Ms Perks] would have killed herself.’

Ms Perks said in a wrenching letter that her troubled behaviour was down to a ‘combination of alcohol and past events in my life’.

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