Three female RAF recruits have each been given £100,000 by the Ministry of Defence after incurring injuries from marching in step with their male colleagues.
According to the women, parading alongside taller male recruits caused them to over-stride, which led to spinal and pelvic injuries.
Following a bitter five-year legal battle that saw the MoD accuse the women of exaggerating their symptoms, they have been awarded more compensation than soldiers who endured severe gunshot wounds in Afghanistan.
RAF official policy states that female recruits should not be expected to extend the length of their strides beyond 27 inches and should be placed at the front of any mixed squad to determine the pace.
But while undergoing training at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire, the claimants had to extend their strides to 30 inches – the standard stride length for men.
The women – aged 17, 22 and 23 at the time – were injured in the first nine weeks of training but have been compensated for nine years of lost earnings and pension perks. All three have made a full recovery.
The payouts come as the Armed Forces’ compensation bill for 2012/13 surpassed £108.9million – up £21million on the last financial year. Former Defence Minister Gerald Howarth said: “This case is completely and utterly ridiculous – it belongs in the land of the absurd. The defence budget is strapped and we’re making 20,000 troops redundant, yet these former recruits are being paid six-figure sums.
“Every pound they’ve been awarded should be clawed back by offsetting their compensation against future earnings.”