Record pregnancy award for nurse

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Record compensation has been awarded to a former nurse forced out of the Royal Navy after being made pregnant by a Roman Catholic chaplain who was serving with the Royal Marines.

Josephine Green was awarded more than pounds 350,000 compensation for sexual discrimination by an Exeter industrial tribunal last month after hearing how she was forced to leave her job at the Royal Naval Hospital in Stonehouse, Plymouth, before the birth of her son in July 1984 when she was 40.

The same year, the baby's father, Michael Patrick Shaw, described on the birth certificate as a naval officer, left the Royal Marines. He is now a priest at St Mary's, Jarrow, South Tyneside.

An Exeter industrial tribunal, which heard evidence in secret to protect the couple's confidentiality, was told that Ms Green met Fr Shaw, who was chaplain to 5,000 Royal Marines stationed at Portsmouth and Plymouth, when her mother was dying.

A sexual relationship began between them a year later. Eventually they ended the relationship and Ms Green ceased any contraceptive measures.

After Fr Shaw returned from a posting in Northern Ireland they had dinner. 'Unfortunately they had too much to drink and putting it simply, they ended the evening in bed. There was no contraception and she became pregnant,' the tribunal's findings said.

Ms Green, who now lives in Australia, has not made any comment. Newcastle-born Fr Shaw, who has been at St Mary's since 1987, has also refused to say anything about the matter.

Fr Shaw's congregation were told about their priest by his temporary replacement Fr John James. He told them: 'Fr Shaw acknowledges he is the father of the child. This is a human situation in which compassion has played a part. He recognises this should not have happened and he accepts that this was wrong. But this was in the past and happened 10 years ago.

'Fr Shaw has asked me to send a special message to you. He says he is sorry for any pain or disappointment this news will cause. Now he simply wishes . . .you will be able to forgive him.'

The Ministry of Defence said yesterday it was studying the judgment and considering an appeal.