Lewd jokes were 'Carry On' humour, Army corporal says

Corporal Stewart "Spike" Milligan said he had not intended to intimidate Corporal Leah Mates when he spoke her name while pretending to masturbate in a communal tent while on duty in Kosovo. He told the tribunal that he was re-enacting a scene from the film When Harry Met Sally.

Cpl Mates is claiming £686,000 for 43 allegations of sexual discrimination at an employment tribunal in Southampton. The 30-year-old, from Calne, Wiltshire has told the hearing that she felt suicidal because of the alleged harassment and intends to leave the Army.

Cpl Mates has alleged that, while she was serving as a signaller in Kosovo, Cpl Milligan, her superior, said her name while masturbatingin a tent shared with her and about seven other male soldiers.

Cpl Milligan said he had not intended to offend Cpl Mates and believed she had gone along with the joke. He said: "When we had all gone to bed, I was being silly by acting out a scene from When Harry Met Sally. We were having a laugh, nobody complained about my actions. I was pretending to masturbate and calling out silly things.

"It was just banter. I distinctly remember she was laughing along with the rest of us. I understand now I was making her uncomfortable but she didn't ask me to stop."

He added that Cpl Mates had made comments during the incident but said he believed she had only been playing along. He said: "She was joking along with it by saying 'Oh shut up, oh, oh'. If she had complained straight away, I would have stopped. I took it as a 'Oh behave', a Carry On Camping kind of 'Oh behave'."

Cpl Milligan admitted under cross-examination by Cpl Mates' solicitor, John McKenzie, that he would not have made the joke if there had only been men in the tent. In a statement read to the tribunal, Cpl Milligan also admitted he used Cpl Mates' first name during the incident. He said: "If it had been a tent full of blokes and I had called out their names, they would have beaten the shit out of me."

He said he had received equal opportunities training but had only taken full awareness of it in 2000 after Cpl Mates complained about this incident.

Cpl Mates, who earns £27,000 a year, has made a range of allegations against Army personnel, from comments about the size of her breasts to lewd graffiti about her. Part of the evidence will be heard in private as it refers to periods when she was deployed to operate with the special forces in Northern Ireland.

Lieutenant Emma Fawcett, who was the commanding officer of Cpl Mates' unit at the time in Kosovo, said she felt the masturbation incident had been dealt with when Cpl Mates accepted a verbal apology from Cpl Milligan.

She said she sought advice from her superior officer before giving Cpl Mates the options of either making a formal complaint or dealing with it informally by way of the apology. The Ministry of Defence denies all the allegations.

The hearing continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
healthMeet the volunteer users helping to see if the banned drug can help cure depression and addiction
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Life and Style
tech
News
i100
News
Foo Fighters lead man Dave Grohl talks about the band's forthcoming HBO documentary series
people
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The officials are caught in the web of US legal imperialism - where double standards don't get in the way

Caught in the web of legal imperialism

The Fifa officials ensnared by America's extraterritorial authority are only the latest examples of this fearsome power, says Rupert Cornwell
Bruce Robinson: Creator of Withnail and I on his new book about Jack the Ripper

'Jack the Ripper has accrued a heroic aura. But I'm going after the bastard'

The deaths of London prostitutes are commonly pinned on a toff in a top hat. But Bruce Robinson, creator of Withnail and I, has a new theory about the killer's identity
Fifa presidential election: What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

What is the best way to see off Sepp Blatter and end this farce?
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards