http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/mai.../09/ixhome.html MoD knew sackings could be challenged By Michael Smith, Defence Correspondent (Filed: 09/08/2004) The Ministry of Defence knew six years ago that a system used to sack soldiers was open to legal challenge as unfair dismissal. A newly obtained document, written in May 2002, a few weeks after the Telegraph revealed the way in which the "manning control" system was being used, said the Army was "concerned" that it could be challenged under the Employment Rights Act. It detailed talks between ministers and MoD civil servants on how to prevent soldiers taking the Army to employment tribunals for "general unfair dismissal". The briefing paper, to be revealed on Channel 4 News tonight, shows civil servants telling ministers that exemption from the Act could be obtained via an order-in-council but this could only happen with Parliament's consent. The alternative was to seek an exemption under EU legislation. "This would have the advantage of not drawing attention to the fact that the unfair dismissal provisions of the Act were not being activated," the document says. The manning control system used a clause in soldiers' contracts that allows the Army to get rid of them after 12 years. Critics say it was misused to save money on pensions. They cite cases of soldiers who were "manning controlled" to take them off a long-term contract, that qualified them for an immediate pension, and then re-employed on short-term contracts. Hundreds of soldiers who say they were victims of "manning control" are preparing to take the Army to court.