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Sunday, March 1, 1998 Published at 19:09 GMT


Outspoken army major to fight dismissal
image: [ Major Joyce accuses the British Army of being snobbish ]
Major Joyce accuses the British Army of being snobbish

An Army Major who faces dismissal after writing a series of articles criticising the armed forces says he will fight to keep his job.

Major Eric Joyce has described the Army as snobbish and rife with racism and sexism.

He told the BBC he did not regret what he had done and hoped his actions would help change the Army for the better.

[ image: Major Joyce says he felt a duty to speak out]
Major Joyce says he felt a duty to speak out
He was warned about his future conduct after writing an unauthorised pamphlet last year for the left-wing Fabian Society. In it he called for radical changes in the Army.

Since then he has made regular media appearances and launched a magazine, the Armed Services Forum, which was authorised but contained severe criticism of the forces.

On Friday Major Joyce was told by his commanding officer that he was regarded as unemployable - the first step in a process leading to dismissal.

[ image: The Army has made more jobs for women]
The Army has made more jobs for women
He told the BBC: "I think the military is most certainly at a crossroads. It has to think about whether the rules that underpin military society are fair and decent and reasonable and work. And there are rules that need to change.

"I have been doing my best to flag that up," he said.

Brigadier Freddie Viggers, the senior officer with responsibility for recruitment and employment policies, denies discrimination is rampant.

"I don't think that is the case, widely. We have done a lot of research with the Central Office of Information over the last two years and it just is not borne out by the facts.

[ image: Racism is also being tackled]
Racism is also being tackled
"We have had isolated incidents of that sort of thing and they are dealt with very firmly, but it is not widespread."

The Army has opened up more jobs for female soldiers and launched initiatives to deal with sexual harassment.

There have been similar moves to deal with racial intolerance. But there has been criticism about the pace of the reforms.

Despite his criticism, Major Joyce, who recently laid an assault charge against a fellow officer, wants to stay in the Army.

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