Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 15:48 UK

Single-mother soldier gets thousands from MoD

Tilern DeBique
Tilern DeBique was disciplined after being late for parade

A single-mother soldier who won a discrimination case against the Ministry of Defence has been awarded £17,016 by an employment tribunal.

Tilern DeBique, 28, from Tooting, south London, was disciplined after not appearing on parade because she had to look after her daughter.

The tribunal agreed that Cpl DeBique, who has since left the Army, had suffered race and sex discrimination.

The MoD said it "noted the award made" and wished Ms DeBique the best.

She was not awarded any compensation for loss of earnings because the tribunal felt she had not done enough to find a new job since leaving the Army.

Treated differently

The MoD had argued personnel were responsible for organising childcare.

But panel chairman Jeremy Gordon said Ms DeBique had not been treated "on a level playing field" with the other soldiers.

The former corporal, who is from the Caribbean island of St Vincent, had reportedly been seeking £1m compensation.

The tribunal had heard that Cpl DeBique, who joined 10 Signal Regiment in March 2001, had expressed an interest in other military positions before leaving the Army in 2008, including two in Afghanistan.

Tilern DeBique
Ms DeBique is currently unemployed

A judge who ruled on a separate MoD appeal called it an unusual case, because Cpl DeBique was a Foreign and Commonwealth soldier serving in the British army, as well as being a single mother.

Her daughter was initially cared for by her family on the Caribbean island of St Vincent. She then brought her child to England, and asked if a relative could come to the UK to help with childcare - but was told immigration rules did not allow it.

The corporal missed work when her child was ill, and was late for parade, resulting in disciplinary action in 2007.

The tribunal criticised the Army for not helping to make childcare arrangements.

At an earlier hearing, the tribunal heard that Ms DeBique had been told by a senior officer that the British Army was "a war-fighting machine unsuitable for a single mother who couldn't sort out her childcare arrangements".

Mr Gordon called the immigration rules that stopped Ms DeBique's sister from permanently moving to the UK to help with childcare "discriminatory".

He said if an exception had been made, she would have been able to keep her job. He said the rules also negatively affected other foreign and Commonwealth soldiers.

She had lost faith in the Army and also lost hope in the system
Jeremy Gordon

"We found that such an exception would have put foreign and Commonwealth soldiers, and particularly the complainant, on a level playing field with soldiers with families who have the right of abode in the UK."

The hearing learned that Ms DeBique had found it difficult to leave the Army and had to see a psychiatrist and take anti-depressants.

Mr Gordon said: "To the complainant, it appeared from the way she was being dealt with that the Army no longer wanted her in service."

But he said she had made a "mistake" by turning down an alternative role at her regiment's base in Blandford, Dorset, where childcare facilities were available.

He said: "She had lost faith in the Army and also lost hope in the system."

The tribunal heard that Ms DeBique, who refused to speak to the media after the hearing, was currently unemployed.

After the compensation amount was announced, a MoD spokesman said: "We have noted the award made by the employment tribunal and we wish Tilern Debique the best for the future."



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