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The BBC's Emma Howard reports
"The judge said the attack had blighted the victim's life at the age of 18"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 22 March, 2000, 20:49 GMT
'Bullied' soldier awarded 745,000
generic shot of training soldiers
The Army says bullying is not endemic
A former private in the Royal Pioneer Corps who was attacked by a "bullying" corporal has been awarded 745,000 in an agreed settlement with the Army.

Leslie Hughes was pushed through a ground floor window, severely injuring his arm, and later suffered a mental breakdown after the incident at the West Moors barracks in Dorset.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokeswoman told BBC News Online that while the Army had accepted liability for Mr Hughes' injuries and subsequent collapse it did not accept the incident was bullying.

But Mr Justice Sachs, agreeing the settlement at the High Court in London, said: "It is a sad and lamentable story we have heard here today which effectively blighted this claimant's life at the age of 18."

Timothy Ryder, representing Mr Hughes, said that one day in 1989 his client went to collect his orders for the day and was assaulted in "what was no more or no less than an act of bullying and not for the first time".

'Officers just watched'

Mr Ryder said Mr Hughes was grabbed around the waist and pushed out of a window, severely cutting his right arm on a pane of glass.

He said: "It is the claimant's case that non-commissioned as well as commissioned officers were watching at the time but did not intervene."

The Army accepted the incident had triggered chronic paranoid schizophrenia.

Mr Ryder said: "He will remain unemployable and in need of out-patient and at times, in-patient, care."

But the MoD spokeswoman told BBC News Online: "It was only meant as a joke. There was another soldier outside waiting to catch him and the fall was only four feet."

'Zero tolerance to bullies'

She said the corporal responsible had undergone a disciplinary interview but no formal action had been taken against him.

She said the Army showed "zero tolerance" toward bullies and denied bullying was endemic in the armed forces.

Mr Hughes, who now lives with his father in Blackpool, Lancashire, said after the hearing: "I feel like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

"It has taken a very long time to reach a settlement but I am very happy with the result today."

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