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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 11:46 GMT 12:46 UK


UK

Fine military service of gay personnel

Of the four, only Jeanette Smith wants her job back

The four complainants who on Monday achieved a landmark victory over the Ministry of Defence's ban on gays in the military all had exemplary service records. But each was drummed out of the armed forces because of their sexual persuasion.

Duncan Lustig-Prean

Mr Lustig-Prean was a supply officer on HMS Newcastle.

He enlisted in 1983 and 10 years later had reached the rank of Lieutenant-Commander.

In 1993 he was described in a report by a senior officer as "a most able, conscientious and industrious officer with outstanding prospects for early promotion to commander".

Commander Andrew Mussey went on to say: "His engaging and warm personality allows him to communicate effectively at all levels.

"He is dynamic and extrovert, yet his magnanimous and conciliatory nature fosters genuine trust and support.

"Resourceful, versatile and perceptive, he is a most effective manager and organiser."

Cmdr Mussey said: "He is a balanced, enlightened and knowledgeable man who enjoys my complete trust in all matters."

Despite this glowing report he was discharged the following year, having reported an attempt to blackmail him over his homosexuality.

Since being hounded out of the Navy, he has carved out a career in property development and management.

Graeme Grady

Mr Grady was an intelligence officer with the RAF based in Washington DC when his career was brought to an end.

He enlisted in August 1980 and at the time considered himself "straight".

Mr Grady, who was promoted to Sergeant in 1990, had a wife and two children but struggled to come to grips with his own sexuality.

In 1994 he went to a counselling group for gay married men and was subsequently discharged.

His Squadron Leader, Peter McDevitt, said: "He has been a loyal serviceman and a conscientious and hard-working tradesman who could be relied upon to achieve the highest standards.

"He has displayed sound personal qualities and integrity throughout his service and has enjoyed the respect of superiors, peers and subordinates alike."

After being discharged, Mr Grady returned to the UK and has worked in personnel administration.

Jeanette Smith

Miss Smith, an RAF nurse, enlisted in April 1989 and worked her way up to the rank of Senior Aircraftswoman (SAC).

She developed a relationship with a woman civilian and this was reported anonymously to the military authorities in 1994. When she admitted to the affair she was discharged.

A report was compiled on her which said: "There is no evidence to suggest she is or has been involved in homosexual relationships with any member of HM Forces, or that criminal offences have been committed during the course of the relationship.

"SAC Smith has confessed that she is homosexual, although there is no evidence to suggest misconduct, corruption, blatant or promiscuous activities or unnatural behaviour on service establishments."

Miss Smith is hoping she will be allowed to resume her career in the RAF following Monday's ruling.

John Beckett

Mr Beckett, a weapons engineer mechanic at HMS Collingwood, near Portsmouth, signed on for 22 years in 1989.

In 1993 he formed a relationship with a young man in his native Sheffield and discussed the matter with his chaplain at HMS Collingwood.

The chaplain advised him to come clean with his commanding officer and he was discharged in September 1993.

A report by the Naval Personnel Secretariat said: "Throughout his service Beckett's reporting officers have commented upon his efficiency, intelligence, dedication and ambition and there is every indication that had it not been for his sexuality his Royal Naval career would have blossomed."

He was later described by Second Sea Lord Sir Michael Layard, chief of Naval Personnel, as "a loyal and patriotic man" who had not committed a civilian or naval disciplinary offence.

After leaving the Navy, Mr Beckett went back to college and is now an officer with South Yorkshire Police.





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