Soldier demoted after affair loses sex discrimination case

A soldier who was demoted after having an affair with a major has lost her claim for sexual discrimination against the Ministry of Defence.

A soldier who was demoted after having an affair with a major has lost her claim for sexual discrimination against the Ministry of Defence.

Warrant Officer Angela McConnell claimed that she was unfairly demoted from the King's Royal Hussars when her affair with Major Alastair Ross was exposed. Affairs within the ranks are against Army rules. She claimed her punishment had been a greater penalty than that given to the major, a married father with two children who was ordered to retire on full pension.

Mrs McConnell, 41, of West Lulworth, Dorset, was also unsuccessful in her claim that she had been harassed into having the affair. Her claim that she was threatened in a letter by the major was also unsuccessful.

The three-week employment tribunal in Southampton was told that Mrs McConnell had an affair with Major Ross for more than a year, including for eight months after disciplinary action was started. Her commanding officer in the King's Royal Hussars Regiment, based in Hampshire, was informed of the affair by her husband, George, a firefighter, who had bugged her car and home.

Mrs McConnell said she was unfairly treated when the affair was exposed because she was forced to remain in the regiment amid the rumours and gossip while Major Ross was transferred to another position.

But the tribunal was told that the decision had been made because Mrs McConnell was required to remain in post. Major Ross, who was asked to resign his commission, was able to claim a full pension. But if Mrs McConnell had been given the same punishment, instead of being demoted to corporal, she would not have been entitled to a full pension.

The tribunal was told that the first sexual liaison between the pair happened in the medals room of the officers' mess on 18 December 2001, during a Christmas party.

Mrs McConnell, who has two children, had claimed she participated in the affair because Major Rossput pressure on her. At the tribunal, he admitted to having the affair but denied intimidating her.

In the tribunal panel's summary of its decision, the chairman, Michael Kolanko, said that Mrs McConnell was a confident and experienced member of the King's Royal Hussars who was capable of refusing Major Ross's advances. The summary stated that there was no evidence that Mrs McConnell had been coerced into having an affair with him.

Mr Kolanko also criticised Major Ross, describing him and Mrs McConnell as accomplished liars. He said: "[Major Ross] exceeded his position of trust and had acted inappropriately in his discussions with junior ranks."

Mr Kolanko dismissed allegations against the Ministry of Defence that it did not treat both genders equally when dealing with matters of sexual harassment or discrimination. He said: "The King's Royal Hussars appears to have complied with the various equal opportunities obligations and requirements imposed upon them."

The tribunal panel also dismissed three specific allegations of discrimination. It ruled that it was not biased to make Mrs McConnell wear a crimson skirt as part of her uniform; it was fair not to have a prize for women in a regimental cross-country race because there was no similar prize for men; and a joke made at Mrs McConnell's expense was not malicious.

A spokeswoman for the tribunalsaid Mrs McConnell had the right to appeal.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat