WOMEN will continue to be barred from joining the Paras despite speculation the Army was set to change its policy.

National reports suggested the Ministry of Defence was set to enlist women into the infantry unit for the first time since the Second World War.

But the Army has moved quickly to quash the rumours.

An Army spokesman said: “Although women cannot join the Parachute Regiment, they can qualify as parachute trained soldiers in other roles.

“To do this, they must first complete the extremely tough P Company course, and they are given exactly the same level of support and assessment as their male colleagues.”

It is understood no women have ever completed the gruelling three-week course.

It remains Army protocol that women are not eligible to join units which have a primary duty to engage the enemy.

Parachute-trained female soldiers can serve in 16 Air Assault Brigade, based at Colchester Garrison, in roles within supporting units such as the Royal Artillery, Royal Logistic Corps or Royal Signals.