Letter: MoD's concern for potential orphans

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The Independent Online
Sir: We are told by the Ministry of Defence that it introduced the policy of dismissing women when they got pregnant when women started to take up more front-line roles 'with the express intention of avoiding the creation of orphans' ('Servicemen challenge pregnancy payments', 6 April).

This was a fascinating revelation for those of us who have been acting for women unlawfully discharged from the Armed Forces as a result of getting pregnant. We have been told consistently by the Ministry of Defence and the Treasury Solicitors that throughout the period from 1978 to 1990 women who were discharged following pregnancy had a right to apply to return after the birth of their child.

They have used this claim as a basis for arguing before industrial tribunals that compensation should be limited to lost pay and pension for the period between the date of discharge and the date of the birth of their child. If the real reason for the policy was to avoid the creation of orphans, there would be little point in allowing the woman to return as soon as the baby was born.

Which of these mutually exclusive claims are true? Either the Ministry of Defence has been systematically misleading tribunals by asserting that there was a right to re-enlist after the birth of the child or, alternatively, the assertion that the justification for the policy was to avoid creating orphans is simply untrue.

Yours faithfully,

NORMAN LAMB

Steele and Co (solicitors)

Norwich,

Norfolk

6 April

The writer is chairman of the Armed Forces Pregnancy Dismissal Group.

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