Current Affairs

Lesbian soldier who suffered harassment has damages claim slashed

Jessica Geen October 14, 2009
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A lesbian soldier who won a £190,000 payout after being harassed by a male superior has had her payout slashed by a third after Army chiefs appealed.

Former Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher was awarded the sum last November at an employment tribunal for the behaviour she was subjected to while at the Royal Artillery stables at RAF Topcliffe in North Yorkshire in 2004.

She was awarded £50,000 in exemplary damages, £20,000 in aggravated damages and £30,000 for hurt feelings. She received another £65,558 related to lost earnings and pension entitlement with the rest of the money made up by costs and interest payments.

The Ministry of Defence challenged the payouts for exemplary damages, which are designed to punish the offender, and aggravated damages, which are paid when a person has suffered malice.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the employment appeal tribunal ruled that the amount for aggravated damages should be cut down to £8,000, while the £50,000 award for exemplary damages was removed entirely as the panel said it was “unsustainable”.

The panel said that the “deplorable” conduct of the Army while investigating the harassment claims did not meet the high threshold under which exemplary damages can be awarded.

The former soldier is likely to lose more money after the interest is adjusted.

The original employment tribunal heard that a male sergeant had said her could turn Fletcher straight and had subjected her to unwanted sexual advances.

After complaining about the harassment, she was denied a transfer and disciplined, while it was also suggested she was mentally unstable.

Fletcher’s £186,896 payout was met with anger by veteran’s groups, who called it “obscene” and compared it to the lesser sums received by soldiers who had lost multiple limbs in action.

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