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calendar   Saturday - November 29, 2008

Lesbian soldier’s £200,000 harassment payout branded ‘obscene’ .

This is really bizarre if you think about it.

OK, if she’s due money for ill treatment, then pay her off. But to get more compensation then people in war zones who have lost limbs?  Sure, soldiers know there is always a chance of bad things happening to them.  I have never known a military person who joined because they thought they would hit a financial jackpot. But surely they deserve as much as this woman.  And if all of this is true and did happen, and I guess it did, then she really deserves even more.

A lesbian soldier has won nearly £200,000 damages from the Ministry of Defence for campaign of sexual harassment against her by a boss who claimed he could “convert” her to heterosexuality.

By Caroline Gammell
Last Updated: 9:16AM GMT 27 Nov 2008
Kerry_Fletcher
Lesbian soldier Kerry Fletcher after a tribunal ruled she had been subjected to a campaign of sexual harassment by a male segeant

The payout sparked criticism from a veterans’ group which branded the payout “obscene” compared to compensation for injured troops.

Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher, 32, was bullied by her boss who made sexual advances towards her and then tried to destroy her career after she spurned him, an employment tribunal heard.

Her tormentor, named for the first time as Staff Sergeant Ian Brown, 40, sent explicit text messages in which he claimed he could “convert” her.

Miss Fletcher was awarded £186,896 by the Leeds Employment Tribunal after winning her claim over her time at the Royal Artillery stables at RAF Topcliffe in 2004.

The sum exceeds the £161,000 given to 21-year-old Marine Ben McBean who lost a leg and an arm in Afghanistan and the £152,150 received by Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, 24, after losing both legs and suffering 14 life-threatening injuries, including brain damage.

It also dwarfs the £57,000 given to 19-year-old Private Jamie Cooper who suffered severe stomach injuries in a mortar attack in southern Iraq.

The National Gulf Veterans’ and Families’ Association said the level of Miss Fletcher’s award was “obscene”.

Spokesman Shaun Rusling said: “We don’t agree with anyone being picked on but it is just Miss Fletcher’s feelings that have been hurt. She will get better.

“You do not get better when your arms and legs have been blown off.

“It seems that there is one law in peacetime and another law when you are at war, fighting for Queen and country.”

Miss Fletcher’s payout included a punitive award of £50,000 in exemplary damages, £20,000 in aggravated damages and £30,000 for hurt feelings – the maximum.

It is believed to be the first time an employment tribunal has ever awarded exemplary damages, those designed to punish the offender, in this country.

A further £65,558 related to lost earnings and pension entitlement while the remainder was made up of Miss Fletcher’s costs and interest payments.

The MoD faces a further bill of £100,000 for its defence costs.

Miss Fletcher, who will leave the Army after 12 years early next year, has three more victimisation claims, which could increase her compensation even further.

After her victory, she said: “I am delighted, over the moon because it has taken such a long time to achieve what I have achieved.

“I basically had to prove that I was not lying. What they have put me through has been awful. I never deserved it and am determined to get fair compensation for my career being ruined.”

In a damning judgment, the tribunal found that the MoD had paid “no more than lip service to the concepts of equal opportunities and the prevention of discrimination”.

After complaining of harassment, Miss Fletcher was disciplined, had her mental stability questioned and was denied a transfer.

Her car was vandalised, she was belittled at work and she received sinister phone calls, the tribunal heard.

The panel branded the MoD’s treatment of Miss Fletcher “so outrageous” that it amounted to “conscious wrongdoing”.

It ruled: “This is as severe a case of victimisation following an allegation of sexual harassment as one could see in an employment tribunal.

“The conduct in relation to Miss Fletcher as a soldier seeking redress was from start to finish oppressive, arbitrary and unconstitutional.”

It said the MoD had put forward a defence in court that “had no regard to the true circumstances of the case”.

Miss Fletcher’s solicitor John Mackenzie described the payout as “sensational and stunning”.

“This case shows that the Army and the MoD is not the slightest bit interested in complying with the law of the land.

“They have wrecked her life and her career and they just do not care, whatever they may say. If ever there was a case that merited the award of exemplary damages, this was it.”

But Mr Mackenzie said the sum could not be compared to injury compensation.

“Tribunal decisions have to be reflected in payouts. It is a false comparison to make between tribunal payouts and the money the MoD pays to injured service personnel, which is always inadequate.”

compensation


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 11/29/2008 at 03:08 PM   
Filed Under: • MilitaryMiscellaneousUK •  
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