Page last updated at 13:18 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 14:18 UK

Gay ex-soldier angry at pay-outs

Bombardier Kerry Fletcher
Miss Fletcher urged injured personnel to fight the MoD for higher payments

A lesbian ex-soldier who won £187,000 damages after being sexually harassed has said she is "disgusted" by lower payments given to injured personnel.

Lance Bombardier Kerry Fletcher, 32, who worked at an Army stables in North Yorkshire, said she was bullied after refusing to sleep with a male sergeant.

Last year's pay-out was criticised as it was more than many soldiers hurt in Iraq or Afghanistan had been awarded.

She said: "I'm embarrassed the MoD have only given them such a low sum."

In an interview on BBC Radio 5 live on Thursday she said it was "not fair" to compare her situation with that of injured soldiers.

Ms Fletcher, who is originally from Sheffield but now lives in Germany, added that anyone who felt they had not received enough compensation should fight the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for more money.

She said: "There's just no comparison. I feel sorry for these people who were injured in wars but they joined the Army knowing there was a risk they could come back injured or even dead.

"I didn't join the Army to be harassed and bullied purely because of my sexuality and because of what happened with this sergeant.

"I fought for what I got... I believed I deserved compensation for what I had to go through and these people should do the same.

"To be honest, I'm disgusted in the MoD more than anything."

A tribunal in 2007 heard that the staff sergeant pestered Ms Fletcher, who is openly gay, for sex and sent her explicit text messages.

The Army has established an inquiry panel to investigate the wider related equality and diversity issues raised by this specific case
MoD statement

She resigned in February 2008 after serving in the Army's Royal Artillery for 10 years.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD), which is appealing against £70,000 of the damages, said in a statement issued in response to Ms Fletcher's interview: "There is no place for harassment or discrimination of any sort in the Armed Forces and we are committed at the highest levels of leadership to dealing with it.

"The Army has established an inquiry panel to investigate the wider related equality and diversity issues raised by this specific case.

"The panel is chaired by a Major General, who has been assisted by independent, external experts and is expected to report its findings later this year."

The MoD said a review of the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme (AFCS), ordered by the Secretary of State last month, would be "open, inclusive and look to involve service personnel, veterans as well as medical and legal experts".

It added: "Payments made under the AFCS can not be compared with compensation payments made by employment tribunals.

"The AFCS is a no-fault scheme and unlike civil damage cases it is not necessary to go to court or prove negligence in order to receive an award."

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