Veteran groups have heavily criticised a record compensation payoutto a female soldier who suffered a campaign of sexual harassment by a male sergeant.
Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher, from Birmingham, was awarded £200,000 from the Ministry of Defence at a tribunal yesterday.
But service groups said the award was obscene compared to pay-outs received by severely injured troops.
The 32-year-old lesbian, who is serving with the Territorial Army in Redditch, was pestered for sex by her boss.
The staff sergeant asked her to join in a threesome with another woman at a North Yorkshire stable barracks and boasted he could turn her ‘straight’, saying ‘Look, I might be able to convert you. You don’t know what you are missing.’
The tribunal heard how he and other male colleagues tried to destroy her career because she spurned his advances.
The panel at an employment tribunal in Leeds yesterday awarded Miss Fletcher £186,896 from the Ministry of Defence for her sexual harassment ordeal at the Royal Artillery stables based at RAF Topcliffe. The payout included a punitive award of £50,000 in exemplary damages, £20,000 in aggravated damages and £30,000 for hurt feelings – the maximum possible.
It is believed to be the first time an employment tribunal has awarded exemplary damages in this country.
The payout exceeds the £161,000 recently offered by the Ministry of Defence to 21-year-old double amputee Marine Ben McBean, who was cared for at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. McBean, of 40 Commando, was hailed “the real hero” by Prince Harry after losing an arm and a leg in a blast in Afghanistan.
It is also higher than the £152,150 that Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, 24, received after losing his legs in Afghanistan.
Private Jamie Cooper, 19, received only £57,000 after suffering horrific injuries to his arm and stomach in Basra.
The National Gulf Veterans’ and Families’ Association branded the level of Miss Fletcher’s award “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.”
The MoD faces a further bill of £100,000 for its defence costs. Miss Fletcher has three more victimisation claims pending against the Army at a Birmingham Employment Tribunal.They could increase her compensation by further tens of thousands of pounds. The tribunal found that the Ministry of Defence had paid “no more than lip service to the concepts of equal opportunities and the prevention of discrimination”.