Army concedes defeat in battle of the sexes

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In the endless battle against sexism, even the Army has bawled out a few orders designed to change employment policy.

But Susan Sadjady, 28, of Northolt, west London, found that in a profession steeped in chauvinism, a military order cannot force a change of heart.

Mrs Sadjady's desire to be a paratrooper in the Territorial Army took her to the High Court. Her initial request for information about paratrooping had been greeted with derision by a TA recruitment officer.

'He said I could come and cook but certainly not jump,' she said. Yesterday Mr Justice Otten said Mrs Sadjady had won 'a resounding victory over the Army'. After dashing her ambition on the grounds that she was female, the Army had 'retreated, capitulated and sent a handsome apology.'

Mr Justice Otten ruled it was no longer necessary for Mrs Sadjady to pursue her claim for judicial review because Major-General James Johnston, director-general of Army manning and recruiting, had apologised and ruled that the recruitment officer's advice was contrary to Army policy introduced last April. It allows women to join the TA parachute battalion if they reach enlistment standards. Mrs Sadjady plans to reapply but Debbie King, her solicitor, said yesterday that it was worrying that a policy 'on paper' since April had apparently not been communicated down the ranks.

An MoD spokesman said: 'It was an administration mistake. Eighteen women have joined the parachute regiment since April.'