'I did no wrong . . . I was thrown out for nothing': A former RAF sergeant who flew in the Gulf war and was a top navigator recalls his dismissal

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The Independent Online
FORMER sergeant Simon Ingram was good enough at his job to fly with the RAF in the Gulf war. He was a good enough communications instructor to be recommended for advanced promotion after six years. Then last January the authorities found out he was gay.

When he had signed up at 19, he had said he was not gay, because at that time he had not considered himself homosexual.

An investigating officer called him in, and said: 'We are here to investigate you for alleged homosexual tendencies . . . Have you ever kissed a man?'

Mr Ingram declined to answer, and listened as the investigating officer read out detailed allegations about his personal life.

'They didn't actually ask me if I was gay but they asked me lots of pointed questions, what homosexual acts I'd performed. Eventually I said 'Why don't you ask me if I'm gay, because if you did I would have told you two days ago and avoided all this hassle'.'

He thinks there is an active witch-hunt for gays in the Army.

'You have females working with males in the forces. If there was any misconduct of a sexual nature it should be dealt with. Gay people are the same. I went to work to do my job, I didn't go to have sex with people - I did that in my own time. I admit there were a number of times when servicemen approached me and I always said no on the grounds that it was too close to work.' He was grounded and a few months later discharged. He is now a television researcher.

He knows two former colleagues in the process of being discharged. 'To train the three of us cost pounds 2.5m. The three of us have a total of 29 years' experience which is irreplaceable.' One was the top navigator in his squadron, and assessed the other navigators. 'Even if you want to cut down the armed forces, it doesn't make sense to throw out your best people, ' Mr Ingram said. 'My reports were all above average. I was recommended for advanced promotion. I had done nothing wrong. My sexuality had never affected my position at work. I had never attempted to have sex with any serving personnel or anyone who didn't want to. I was thrown out for absolutely nothing.'

(Photograph omitted)

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