A special forces spy was awarded £12,000 in compensation yesterday after an employment tribunal found that she had suffered a catalogue of abuse whilst serving in the British Army’s special forces.
30 year old Corporal Leah Mates told the hearing that she contemplated suicide after she was groped, threatened and labelled as a lesbian and “poisoned dwarf” in reference to her slight stature during a ten year campaign of persecution by male colleagues.
She claimed that she was dragged in the dirt by her hair and was forced to share a tent with nine men, one of whom fondled her in an inappropriate manner. On another occasion, she claimed that her photograph was used for live target practice
Ms Mates was awarded compensation for six of the forty three charges she alleged against the army. These included compensation for using her photograph for target practice and “Leah is a dog” being scrawled upon guard posts and desks.
The soilder who served in the secret Special Reconnaissance Regiment on assignments in Northern-Ireland was said to be “still digesting” the award which was much less than the£686,000 she had demanded.
William Mackenzie, one of her lawyers, said: “We were quite pleased with the level of compensation awarded and we hope the Army will learn the lessons that should have been learnt long ago.”
A Ministry of Defence spokesperson claimed that it was too early to comment on whether officers would face disciplinary actions but said: “There is no place for sexual harassment or bullying of any sort in the armed forces and we are committed at the highest level of leadership to dealing with it.
“A great deal of work has been done over many years to tackle inappropriate behaviour and we actively promote equal opportunities for all our personnel.
“The armed forces take all complaints of harassment and discrimination seriously, all such allegations are investigated thoroughly and where proven appropriate action is taken.”
A statement released by the employment tribunal said: “We award compensation for injury to feelings of £12,000, plus interest to be assessed if not agreed.
“We find the claimant is not entitled to compensation for loss of career.’”