THOUSANDS of service women, sacked for becoming pregnant, were illegally forced out of their jobs 'simply for being female', it was claimed at an Employment Appeals Tribunal yesterday.
Careers, some of them distinguished, were left in 'tatters', because they had performed 'the most natural function of having children'.
Patrick Elias QC, representing seven of the women at a test hearing at which the Ministry of Defence is appealing against the grounds used to compensate them - some of the awards ran into six figures - said the suffering they had experienced was a 'true outrage' of the 20th century.
He told the tribunal in London: 'These cases involved admitted unlawful conduct by an arm of the state, depriving women of their careers.'
Since the MoD's admission that it breached European law in sacking women simply because they had conceived, more than 2,000 claims have been heard by tribunals. The fate of all these, and many still to be heard, hang on the outcome of the hearing before Mr Justice Morison and two lay members, due to end on Monday.