Page last updated at 11:46 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 12:46 UK

Gay soldier harassment award cut

Bombardier Kerry Fletcher
The appeal judges said the Army's conduct had been "rightly condemned"

A lesbian ex-soldier who won £187,000 damages after being sexually harassed has had her payout cut by a third.

Kerry Fletcher was awarded £186,895.52 by an employment tribunal in November for sex discrimination, victimisation and sexual harassment.

The tribunal heard how Ms Fletcher, originally from Sheffield but now living in Birmingham, was pestered at an Army stables in North Yorkshire.

Her payout was cut by £62,000 by Employment Appeal Tribunal judges.

Conduct 'deplorable'

The original tribunal heard how a male sergeant pestered Ms Fletcher, who is openly gay, for sex and sent her explicit text messages.

Her payout was criticised as it was more than many soldiers hurt in Iraq or Afghanistan had been awarded.

At the appeal hearing Mrs Justice Slade said Ms Fletcher was not entitled to £50,000 "exemplary damages", which had been awarded in a bid to "punish and deter" the Army after her treatment was found to be "oppressive, arbitrary and unconstitutional".

Mrs Justice Slade said that the conduct of the Army had been "rightly condemned" and she hoped lessons had been learned from the case. She said exemplary damages were "not appropriate".

Further apology

"The Army's conduct, deplorable though it was found to be, did not cross the high threshold warranting an award of exemplary damages," the judge said.

The judge also reduced aggravated damages awarded to Ms Fletcher from £20,000 to £8,000.

In a statement the Ministry of Defence said it had "noted" the appeal tribunal's judgement and was "considering its implications to see what lessons can be learned for the future".

It said: "The MOD takes this further opportunity to apologise to [Ms] Fletcher for the conduct towards her, which was found in the Leeds Employment Tribunal judgment to be discriminatory.

"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."

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