Clive Fairweather: 'Army need to update their recruitment law'

THE outcome of the Tilern DeBique case has potentially serious implications for the future, not only for the MoD but for taxpayers as well.

This landmark case could in theory open the floodgates for countless claims and leave our already beleaguered armed forces with very little cash left to do its main job – which is to defend the country.

On the other hand there is no reason why the military should be able to ignore its own employment rules. So good for her and her family. However, neither can the MoD have its cake and eat it.

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Over the last decade or more, the pool of available manpower has been shrinking, leading to sustained attempts at recruiting more women and personnel from the Commonwealth.

This has released a rich seam of individuals with the enthusiasm and skills peculiar to the high standards needed for those who, in the final analysis, may be required to wield a bayonet in anger.

Just ask the friends of Private Johnson Beharry who rescued so many in Iraq and was awarded the Victoria Cross. He too comes from the Caribbean.

So it would be well worth the MoD taking the time now, to properly analyse what went wrong and how it can update its recruitment process and legislation, so that any loopholes are closed for future generations joining up.

In some cases it may continue having to consider what childcare arrangements can reasonably be made for single parents in uniform, but these should be the exception, rather than the norm.

The military, by its very nature, has to be highly mobile and frequently ready to move at a moment's notice.

Overall it must also be remembered that those young men and women joining the Armed Forces today are daily showing themselves to be brave and unflinching in some pretty serious situations overseas and occasionally at home.

They are far more professional than the army I served in and, as a general rule, humblingly generous with their lives and time rather than litigious.

• Clive Fairweather, former SAS Deputy.