Wrens claim millions for pregnancy dismissals

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The Independent Online
A multi-million pound compensation claim has been filed by a group of Wrens from Portsmouth, Hampshire, who were sacked from the Royal Navy after they became pregnant.

Annette McHugh, who lost her job as a petty officer in 1988, has been collecting claims from other aggrieved Wrens and is sending the first batch to the Ministry of Defence.

The ministry has been forced to pay compensation claims, following a ruling in the High Court that it discriminated against service personnel by making them leave the forces if they became pregnant.

Mrs McHugh, 36, who had served for 14 years, is claiming pounds 234,000 - a figure based on a gratuity for leaving that was not paid, loss of future earnings and other benefits.

However, she expects to receive only pounds 15,000.

She is still looking for work, and would have remained in the Navy if she had been allowed to serve.

She said: 'I have had some sad letters from other women. One Wren who couldn't have a child was sacked when she adopted a baby.

'The Navy asked her to stay on for a month to close down HMS Excellent.

'Her baby stayed with a child- minder, and then when the work was finished she was told to go because she had a child.

'I have also had letters from women who, like me, were somebody one minute and nobody the next because they did a dreadful thing and had a baby.'

The MoD admitted liability in a letter to Mrs McHugh's solicitor and asked him how much compensation she and the other Wrens were seeking.

Mrs McHugh is working out the claims on her computer.

She said the women were aware they would probably not get the sums they were asking for.

The claims are likely to open the floodgates to thousands of other applications from servicewomen around the country seeking compensation.