Leading article: Courts martial on trial

Share
Related Topics
WHO could resist the story of bonking under cover of the noise of jump-jets landing and taking off? We may not think we ought to be interested, and we must all be sure that it does not matter, but the vast majority of newspaper readers have followed the case of the "officer and the Wren" with rather more attention to detail than, say, the Government's deliberations on the question of trade union recognition.

Yesterday, Lieutenant-Colonel Keith Pople was acquitted by a court martial of prejudicing military discipline and scandalous conduct. What he and Lieutenant-Commander Karen Pearce got up to hardly qualifies as a scandal these days, but it was gripping stuff on the border between soft porn and gossip. But military discipline had not been compromised, and in that sense the court martial produced the right verdict.

If two grown-ups want to do - as he described them - foolish things in private, then that should not be a matter for any kind of court, even if they are married. The forces' ban on adultery is out of date and counter- productive.

The only issue which could concern discipline is one which is not limited to the forces. Sexual relations between superiors and subordinates can be unwise, and they can be exploitative. But Lt-Cdr Pearce is no cowering rating; she is one of the most senior women in the Navy. The court martial panel concluded that she and Lt-Col Pople had effectively worked as equals, and that he did not have the chance to influence her career.

More generally, however, and to the extent that the law does govern sexual relations, in the fields of sex equality, harassment and rape, then surely all cases should be heard in the civil courts, and not in historical relics retained in the services and the church.

Then this case would not have been brought, as it should not have been. We would lose a "good read", but avoid a lot of collateral damage in the process.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executives - B2B

£20000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Genius Ltd continue...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you have the right attitude,...

Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Client Services Executive - Enfield, North London ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: how come Ed Miliband’s tuition fee ‘cut’ is so popular, then?

John Rentoul
Carrie's son Jack on holiday in the Carribean  

As a parent of a child with autism, this is what I want you to know about my family

Carrie Cariello
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn