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
Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvReview: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series Fortitude has begun with a feature-length special
Voices
Three people wearing masks depicting Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg
voicesPolitics is in the gutter – but there is an alternative, says Nigel Farage
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
i100
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
News
people
Sport
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho
footballI have never seen the point of lambasting the fourth official, writes Paul Scholes
Life and Style
Vote green: Benoit Berenger at The Duke of Cambridge in London's Islington
food + drinkBanishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turn over a new leaf
News
Joel Grey (left) poses next to a poster featuring his character in the film
peopleActor Joel Grey comes out at 82
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee