MoD knew sackings could be challenged

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by kennys-go-nad, Aug 9, 2004.

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    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.

  2. Cutaway

    Cutaway LE Reviewer

    Bloody Brilliant !

    I can see the headlines next month:

    "Bliar goes bust - Broon tells him to hoop it "

    :twisted: :lol:
  3. X-Inf

    X-Inf War Hero Book Reviewer

    Do you think that Cherie B would take on the job of prosecuting the MoD?
  4. True, she screwed the Nut for the Gurkhas :roll:
  5. There are 900-plus guys about to sue the MoD in a joint class action for unfair dismissal and they're just the tip of a very big iceberg. The lawyer representing them is Tom Reah, the man who got compensation for Brad Tinnion's partner after he was killed in Sierra Leone and Whitehall refused to recognise her because they were unmarried.

    The vast majority of the soldiers involved in the lawsuit were binned at the 12-year point on some very dodgy manning control lines. If the MoD loses, which is likely, it'll have to stump up loss of earnings and restore full pension rights. Bang go the navy's new carriers, HMS Small and HMS Smaller Still, then. Be lucky if they can afford an Airfix kit after this one. Serves the cnuts right. :lol:
  6. A good friend of mine, got MCP'd at his 12, but they kept him in on 'S Type' Engagement - non-pensionable. He is just coming up to his 18 year point, and has questioned the legality of this many,many times. He accepted that he was no longer eligiable for promotion, but the loss of pension is the kick in the nads. He may now have hope of the pension he deserves.
  7. Mighty Blighty,
    A mate of mine in the adjutant-general's office tells me extending an S-type contract is legally dodgy in itself. Your mate looks like he stands a good chance of getting some payback. :lol:
  8. With any luck this will further help to remind the Government that just because we are in the military, we do still have rights. Just because we've volunteered to go and kick Johnny Foreigner's arrse as required, doesn't mean that Big Tone and the Jeffhoon can treat us as an expendable commodity. Hitherto we were in the rather odd position of having a lot of responsibilities (such as subjection to military law, exemption from various aspects of ECR, etc) and damn all rights: the opposite position to that of most civvies!
  9. Yup, payback time. Serves 'em right for screwing people over.

    The politico's look after themselves alright - one in the eye for squaddies.
  10. This was the full text from last night's prog.

    Dishonourable discharge

    Published: 09-Aug-2004
    By: Julian Rush and Girish Juneja

    More than eight hundred former and serving soldiers are preparing to take the Ministry of Defence to court - claiming they've been bullied and hoodwinked into leaving the Army.

    A procedure which allows the MOD to sack a soldier half way through a 22 year contract has caused consternation in the ranks.

    Channel Four News has seen evidence that the Ministry of Defence knew the procedure was open to legal challenge under European law.

    The MOD insist no-one has been discharged under this controversial regulation since 2002.

    But some soldiers believe that they are being pushed out, or forced to resign as their regiments come under pressure to keep costs down.

    Now British soldiers feel under threat - not from an enemy but from their own chain of command.

    The problem is “Manning Control”, a procedure that allows the Army to assess soldiers after 12 years and sack them if it thinks they aren't suitable to be employed for a full career of 22 years.

    Four years ago the first signs emerged it was being abused.

    A Para, Corporal Biddiss, claims he was selected for Manning Control to cover up the mistakes of a superior officer. But he was not an unsuitable soldier - he'd just qualified for SAS selection.

    He refused to go and he claims the Army went on victimise him further because he stood up for his rights.

    The case has lit a fuse in the Army - figuring large on web sites for former soldiers. Over 800 past and serving soldiers have contacted Tom Reah with allegations of bullying around Manning Control. The case will start once the Army finally rules on Corporal Biddiss' official complaint - lodged 4 years ago now.

    “If they were civilian employees no civilian employer would stand any chance of terminating their contracts, none at all. But the MOD seems to think differently”

    Tom Reah, solicitor

    Channel 4 News has discovered that ministers have known for some time that Manning Control is legally questionable. It turns out that European legislation gives soldiers rights to challenge manning control on the grounds of unfair dismissal - and we've seen evidence that civil servants have been trying to persuade ministers to change the law to remove those rights before anyone found out they existed.

    We've seen an internal MOD briefing document, written in May 2002, that admits:

    "...there is a strong likelihood of an increase in legal challenges against the Armed Forces' employment policies such as administrative discharge through Manning Controls..."

    Its proposal to change the law without publicity:

    "...would" it says "have the advantage of not drawing attention to the fact that the Unfair Dismissal provisions of the Employment Rights Act were not being activated..."

    Mandarin-speak for a right lost before it was ever used.

    Soldiers' suspicions their dismissals were unfair have been fuelled by cases where the Army first sacked them, then called them back to do the same job on a short-term contract.

    Angela Emms was a lance corporal: an experienced logistics controller. Injuries from a car accident made physical work difficult, but hers was a desk job. She too is ready to go to court, alleging she was bullied into accepting Manning Control:

    “He said I am giving you an order. I am giving you a direct order. You will sign this form and you will sign it today. I had no choice. Short of disobeying an order I don't know what would have happened"

    "An hour or so later I was called back by the families officer and taken into this office. There was just the two of us and basically I was coerced into signing this thing, he just said I am giving you an order, I am giving you a direct order. If you don't obey my orders some kind of disciplinary action will be taken"

    "A year after I had been Manning Controlled I was called up as a mobilized reservist and went to Bosnia for 18 months doing the same job. Why were they calling up this so called undeserving soldier?"

    Since the Biddiss case attracted attention, ministers seem to have repeatedly told Parliament Manning Control has stopped. We've exclusive evidence it continued, and it's happening now:

    June 2003 - Lewis Moonie: "...there are no plans to conduct any Manning Control Point reviews in the next 12 months"

    Yet, 3 weeks later, this was sent to 3 Para, a list of soldiers approaching their Manning Control review point was sent to 3 Para.

    January this year - Ivor Caplin: "There are currently no plans to conduct any Manning Control Point reviews in the next 15-18 months"

    and a month later - Adam Ingram: " further reviews are currently planned

    Yet, just last month, Manning Control figured in the Army's daily orders: we can exclusively reveal that soldiers were reminded to "acquaint themselves" with the instructions on the topic.

    The MOD now admits that lists are still routinely being sent to regiments. Ministers' Parliamentary answers, though, say no-one's been sacked under Manning Control regulations since 2002.

    So what's going on - how are these lists used?

    Well, soldiers tell us is they're being "persuaded" to leave voluntarily instead or they're sacked under a different regulation - in order, they believe, to protect ministers from the charge of misleading Parliament.

    Soldiers believe the Army takes advantage of the stigma they feel about Manning Control: dismissal tarnishes their reputation, so few are willing to talk about it.

    But one serving soldier we've spoken to who faces dismissal was prepared to speak:

    “I think the army is engineering a system to save on money - cost cutting, to engineer a system where it leaves a solder no choice but to actually jump before he is pushed. And I feel that pressure - that I might have to jump before I am pushed to save myself or to save my own career and I feel there’s other solders in exactly the same position doing the same thing”

    “If I am to volunteer now then the army wins hands down. The army gets away with not paying me a pension the army gets away with not fulfilling its contract to look after its troops”

    Soldier who requested to remain anonymous

    The MOD denies manning control has ever been used to cut costs by saving on pensions and it says a review of over 200 cases has shown the procedures were all followed correctly.

    But at a time when the Army insists it's over-stretched it has, in recent months, been forced by successful recruitment to cut numbers to conform to Treasury funding limits.

    And while manning control remains shrouded in secrecy, the widely-held suspicion will remain that it's all to do with money, and nothing to do with personnel management.

    MoD Statement

    “Manning Control Points are a valuable tool for managing the structure of the Army. Soldiers are notified of its use before they join the Army”

    “The MOD would like to stress that Commanding Officers are not under any pressure to conduct Manning Control Point reviews”

    “Ministers have not misled parliament. It has always been clear that the use of Manning Control Point procedures has not been suspended but no soldiers have been discharged under these procedures since 2003”


    Site for former members of the Parachute Regiment detailing their issues with Manning Control
    Submitted by Channel 4 News

    Ministry of Defence
    Submitted by Channel 4 News

    Channel 4 is not responsible for the content of third party sites
  11. Sorry about that. Didn't realise someone else had posted the article while I was cutting pasting it.
  12. I understand the class action will be triggered when the Army Board delivers its decision on the case of Cpl Paul Biddiss. That ruling's due any time now. Tom Reah, the solicitor handling the business, thinks it'll be next month. Biddiss represents a classic and tragic case of being fcuked over. Details at the ex-Para website.
  13. Shandyswiller,
    The Para website address is at the foot of Kenny's Go-Nad post above. :lol:
  14. chimera

    chimera LE Moderator

    So how do you do that then? Will these people not just find any excuse to mention the SAS somehow?
  15. Folks,

    Reading down this thread I note
    For all your info, the Army Board will not delivery a ruling until any legal action has been sorted out in the courts. This makes sence as the Board could take one decision and the Courts another. "Serious egg on face syndrome."

    My understanding is that a Redress has to be submitted through the Chain of Command within 3 months of the wrong becoming known to the soldier/officer. He/she then has a further 3 months to lodge the case with an Employment Tribunal. (Not sure if Biddiss has done this)

    If Cpl Biddiss hasn't completed these very important steps then the MoD will use the "out of time" card at the Tribunal. I know several of guys who fell foul of this tactic. So watch it. That said the Tribunal does have leaway to go ahead and hear a case but only in special circumstances.

    I know some very able soldiers who were MCP'd and left the Army so I hope this goes well for all involved.