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Female RAF recruits receive compensation

Three female ex-RAF Halton recruits have been awarded a considerable sum of compensation after medical tests determined they suffered spinal and pelvic injuries as a result of being forced to march in step with their male colleagues.

Aged 17, 22 and 23 at the time of the incidents occurring, all three women have received £100,000 each from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in compensation for their injuries, with the government department admitting its policies on the treatment of female recruits had been breached in this instance.

RAF policy states female recruits should not be forced to march at strides extending more than 27 inches. However, on several occasions during their training the women were ordered to march in step with the male members of their unit and to extend their stride to 30 inches.

The dangers of over-striding are plain to see, as doing so places considerable strain on the joints of the groin and can also lead to injuries of the pelvis, torn or sprained muscles and musculoskeletal injuries of the spine.

One claimant, 22-year-old Tracie Davies of Oldham, told the Mail on Sunday: "When I started getting pains in my groin I was told to march through it, even when I was carrying a heavy pack which was almost the size of me.

"I trusted the medics to know better than me so I carried on marching. But eventually I couldn't take any more and burst into tears.

"An X-ray found four separate pelvic fractures."

The compensation award follows a five-year legal battle for the ladies, with the MoD initially claiming the trio were exaggerating their injuries. However, the department now admits its liability in causing their injuries.

A spokesperson for the MoD stated the welfare of recruits is a top priority for the government department and in cases where personnel are injured as a result of their service compensation will always be forthcoming.

Since leaving the RAF, all three women have now made a full recovery and are pursuing successful careers outside of the armed forces.

By Francesca Witney