In the Media

DNA victory for soldier?s fianc? and daughter

PUBLISHED December 5, 2012

Thursday 06 December 2012 by Jonathan Rayner

Who? Jennifer Roulston, 33, family law partner at north-west firm QualitySolicitors Forshaws Davies Ridgway.

Why is she in the news? She helped a mother, aged 19, prove that her fiancé had fathered their daughter before dying on active service in Afghanistan.

Because the couple were unmarried, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had declined to release the dead soldier's DNA so that his paternity could be proved and his name put on the child's birth certificate.

However, after some five months of negotiations, and with the help of a local MP and the support of prime minister David Cameron, the MoD agreed to amend its policy and disclose the DNA evidence.

The child now has her father's name on her birth certificate and may be eligible for compensation.

Thoughts on the case: 'Society is changing. Many soldiers are starting families without getting married, which can leave their children and partners vulnerable if they should die. There is a pressing need for all soldiers, married or otherwise, to conserve a record of their DNA.'

Dealing with the media: 'The human interest of a young, bereaved woman turning to the law for justice attracted a lot of media attention, but we were able to protect her and keep her a dignified distance from the hype.'

Why become a lawyer? 'I was an avid fan of LA Law - not that my career has ever been quite so glamorous.'

Career high: 'This case.'

Career low: 'The devastating impact on families, in particular children and women, of the imminent cuts to legal aid.'