A young Lincoln soldier who was left partially blind after a savagely cruel initiation ceremony is to sue the Ministry of Defence.
Oliver Scudder endured a volley of punches and a kick to the face which caused an irreparable hole in his eye, but he was told his attackers would not face prosecution.
The attack happened on December 10, 2014 at Kendrew Barracks in Cottesmore when, as a new member of 10 Platoon, C Company, he was told to ‘run the gauntlet’.
The barbaric initiation requires new soldiers to run down a corridor lined with their comrades, who kick and punch them as they do so.
Oliver said: “I felt I had no choice. I could see a guy who’d just been through it and he looked shaken up, but not badly hurt so I felt I had to go through with it.
“The pressure was immense and I feared the consequences if I said no.”
As Oliver ran the length of the corridor he tripped – or was tripped – falling to the floor.
But the violence continued as he was kicked in the face. At the time, he was unsure of the extent of his injuries and believed he had got something in his eye.
It was not until later when Oliver was at home on annual leave that he went to see his family GP who advised him to report to the medical centre at RAF Waddington from where he was promptly referred to Lincoln Hospital and on to Queens Medical Centre in Nottingham.
It was at QMC Oliver was given the devastating news that he had suffered a macular hole in his right eye but there was nothing medically that could be done further because the hole had healed and had left a scar.
The attack left his right eye so badly damaged he lost 90% of his vision and was no longer be able to serve his country.
“I’m devastated. The army is all I ever wanted. I joined as soon as I could and wanted to fulfil my 22 years’ service.
“Instead I’ve been left with a sliver of peripheral vision in my right eye and no career in front of me.”
Oliver joined the Royal Anglian Regiment on December 1, 2014 after completing his Phase 2 Training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, aged 17.
He was injured just nine days later and was medically downgraded by military officials in July 2015 before being medically discharged in May 6, this year.
The victim, now 20, instructed lawyers Irwin Mitchell, who said that while the MOD admitted liability for the incident in a letter from the Service Prosecuting Authority, Oliver was told here was insufficient evidence to bring a criminal prosecution against his attackers.
Instead, punishment was left to Oliver’s former commanding officer, meaning culprits may face a fine or reduction in rank.
In response Irwin Mitchell launched legal action against the MOD who, as Oliver’s employer, had a duty of care.
They are looking for financial support for Oliver as he faces civilian life with severe sight loss.
Solicitor Paul Weston said: “Clearly being in the armed forces is a potentially dangerous vocation, but no soldier should face injury during downtime at their barracks – and not at the hands of members of their own regiment.
“This incident and the other cases we are conducting raise the concern that violent initiation ceremonies are still being carried out in the military today.
“This outdated practice should have no place in modern soldiering and new recruits who face injury and death on the field of battle should not have to fear it on home soil during their training.”
A spokesperson for the MOD said: “Initiation ceremonies are a form of bullying and are a breach of the army’s values and standards.
“Anyone found to have fallen short of these standards will be dealt with appropriately up to and including dismissal from the Army.”