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Lesbian solider denies sexual relationship with female colleague

Gemma Pritchard November 13, 2007
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A supposed rendezvous between two lesbian soldiers in an Army stable was just a friendly cuddle, a tribunal heard yesterday.

A male colleague had said that Sergeant Louise Ashman and Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher were engaged in a romantic encounter in the barn after one sent the other a text message saying “I feel randy”, the Daily Mail has reported.

But yesterday Miss Ashman insisted she was only comforting her colleague who had been upset by the unwanted attentions of a male sergeant.

Giving evidence for her friend at an employment tribunal where Miss Fletcher is suing the Ministry of Defence for discrimination, Miss Ashman denied having had a sexual relationship with her.

“We are close friends and nothing more,” said Miss Ashman.

She said she had gone to see Miss Fletcher, 31, after receiving a distressed telephone call from her.

“We were in her horse’s stable and I was comforting her with a cuddle when Gunner Ashley Yates appeared with his wheelbarrow,’ she said.

“We both turned to look at him and he smiled at us and carried on his way.

“When he saw us I did not have my hand inside Kerry’s trousers and we were not kissing. I was cuddling a friend who was crying.

“I cannot understand why he is saying these things.

“I would not allow myself to get into such a position at work, as Yates is claiming, because I cherish my career too much and would not want to jeopardise my chances of progressing.”

Both women claim they were pestered for sex by a male sergeant at their Army base in North Yorkshire.

Miss Ashman said he had sent her and Miss Fletcher explicit text messages proposing sex.

She said that she and Miss Fletcher had become friends after meeting at a corporals’ mess function where they were the only women.

According to the Mail Miss Ashman told the hearing in Leeds: “A few days later Kerry invited me to her room for a coffee and I then realised that she was gay as she had photos of herself and her partner Pam on her wall. I am also gay so we had something in common.”

She said she was invited over to the stables for coffee several times and was introduced to Miss Fletcher’s sergeant, who came across as a womaniser.

“He seemed to be interested in any new girls that were posted to the regiment,” said Miss Ashman.

“I believe Kerry told him that I was gay and he seemed to have a fetish with making up stories about Kerry and I being in a relationship.’

Miss Fletcher is claiming sex discrimination and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

She alleges that the sergeant and other male colleagues tried to destroy her career and health because she was a lesbian.

When the tribunal began last week, Miss Fletcher said that the sergeant had vowed to “convert” her, and had told her that she had not yet experienced a “real man.”

He also added, “You don’t know what you’re missing.”

The sergeant allegedly sent Ms Fletcher perverted text messages about his penis and told her to break up with her “minging” girlfriend, according to The Sun

When Ms Fletcher rejected his advances, she says she was harassed by his friends who forced her out of 40 Regiment, Royal Artillery in North Yorks.

In her new battery, Ms Fletcher faced similar treatment.

She says her tyres were slashed and she received abusive phone calls late at night.

She also claims to have overheard her new superior being instructed to “fuck her over” and “make her life a misery.”

The tribunal continues.

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