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
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas