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Men claim victory on equal pay

FOUR male coroner's officers claimed victory yesterday after revealing they were paid about pounds 1,000 less than a woman for doing the same job.

They told an industrial tribunal in Birmingham that Stephanie Stephens, 29, began her post on the top pay scale even though she was untrained and they had been in the job for years. Melvyn Jones, 52, Kenneth Hodge, 48, Michael Brookes, 52, and Kenneth Taylor, 56, claimed they were sexually discriminated against by West Midlands Police and demanded the same pay as her under the Equal Pay Act.

Yesterday, the West Midlands Police Authority agreed to discuss a cash settlement, and the tribunal's hearing was adjourned. The tribunal was told the officers were employed to investigate sudden deaths, on a wage of roughly pounds 13,500 at the bottom of scale five.

Mr Taylor told the tribunal the officers moved up the scale every year. The four men were almost at the top of grade six after roughly four years in the job, but Mrs Stephens, of Marston Green, Birmingham, was taken on at the top of scale six immediately.

Earlier, West Midlands Police had defended the appointment of Mrs Stephens on a higher salary, saying she had 'outshone' all the other candidates for the post.