Tribunal begins for army officer sent home from Afghanistan due to ‘lesbian relationship’

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A tribunal sat yesterday to hear the case of Captain Karen Tait, an operations officer in Afghanistan who was sent home on grounds of “social misconduct” after authorities alleged a relationship with a female sergeant affected her judgment.

Tait, 29, claims the relationship was put “on hold” before the two women left for Afghanistan, and denies intimacy with Sgt Caroline Graham.

However, commanding officers allege that in her official capacity she moved Sgt Graham from Kandahar to Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, where Tait was stationed, in order to be together.

They shared a tent, which constituted the only accommodation for female officers and soldiers at the site.

Captain Tait claims the move was as a result of Sgt Graham being “medically downgraded” as a result of a back injury.

Commanding officers further alleged that Tait altered leave cards to allow her to spend time with Graham, and informed her that she would be “short toured”, and sent home from Afghanistan.

On her return she was banned from contacting members of 160 Provost Company, and from attending the funerals of four soldiers who died in Afghanistan.

Captain Tait is claiming discrimination on the grounds of sexuality, as a result of the prejudice of her commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Poneskis.

She told the tribunal: “She [Poneski] seemed to dislike me and to be against me from her very first contact with me when she took over command.

“She said I had lost the trust and the confidence of herself and the OC. I was devastated at being removed from my post.”

Tait was recommended for discharge, the tribunal heard, after being short toured in December 2009.

Major Tim Osman, a spokesman for the Army, said: “It’s inappropriate to comment on an individual case whilst proceedings are ongoing, however the armed forces aim to achieve a working environment free from harassment, intimidation and discrimination irrespective of where personnel are located.”

The hearing continues.