A reader asks now that the Turing Law is a reality, can he claim for unfair dismissal from the army and wrongful imprisonment.

A reader asks now that the Turing Law is a reality, can he claim for unfair dismissal from the army and wrongful imprisonment.

Am I entitled to claim for unfair dismissal and wrongful imprisonment?

I am 55 years of age.

I joined the army at 19. In 1983 I was court martialed for gross indecency, sentenced to 6 months in military prison and discharged with disgrace. Under the Turing law, I have since received a royal pardon and my record wiped clean both by the Home Office and the Ministry of Defence.

My question is: Am I entitled to claim for unfair dismissal and wrongful imprisonment?

John (Name changed)

Dear John,

Thank you for your question. I’m very glad to hear you’ve been able to use “Turing’s Law” to obtain a statutory pardon.

Although the effect of the conviction being disregarded means the conviction should in all circumstances be considered as never having happened, the pardon itself does not retroactively change the status of the then applicable law. This means that, unfortunately, you cannot take any action for wrongful imprisonment because, according to the laws of the time – unfair as they were, the action taken by the court martial was lawful. Neither can you pursue the issue in terms of employment law. Court martial decisions are not covered by the Employment Tribunal (which is the only place you can pursue unfair dismissal claims) and in any event, claims have to be brought within three months of dismissal.  Employment law is incredibly restrictive at the moment and is generally thought to favour the employer over the worker.

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This means that, unfortunately, you cannot take any action for wrongful imprisonment because, according to the laws of the time – unfair as they were, the action taken by the court martial was lawful. Neither can you pursue the issue in terms of employment law. Court martial decisions are not covered by the Employment Tribunal (which is the only place you can pursue unfair dismissal claims) and in any event, claims have to be brought within three months of dismissal. Employment law is incredibly restrictive at the moment and is generally thought to favour the employer over the worker.

You have suffered a great deal and I know you will be disappointed that this legal advice is not more positive. The key with employment law today is to act quickly and anyone suffering from discrimination at work because of their sexuality should to take advice from a trade union or a solicitor as soon as they can. Even if you are not a member of trade union now, or at the time of the discrimination, you should still contact a local union rep as they can help you nonetheless.

Check your household insurance too: sometimes it will cover legal services without you realising. No one should have to suffer any detriment at work because of their sexuality, or any other characteristic that has nothing to do with their job, so if you are suffering in this way, please seek help.