Pensions  

D-Day veteran loses case against police pension scheme

D-Day veteran loses case against police pension scheme

A former police officer and D-Day veteran has lost a High Court case to have his second wife receive his police pension.

A High Court judgment, published yesterday (January 22), found the former police officer is not able to leave his pension to his second wife on his death as his scheme rules do not permit so.

The 95-year old served in the Royal Marines at the end of the Second World War, and is one of the few survivors of the Normandy landing, otherwise known as D-Day.

Following this, Eric Carter went on to serve as an officer with Essex Police for nearly three decades, choosing to retire in 1977.

Soon after his wife of 35 years passed away in 1979 and Mr Carter remarried in 1981.

Although the police pension scheme offers the benefit of a reduced widow’s pension upon an officer’s death, his current wife, Mrs Carter, will not receive any benefit if she outlives him as his pension can only be paid to a widow who was married to Mr Carter at the time of his police service.

The scheme was subsequently changed so that pensions are now payable to post-retirement widows in respect of their late husbands’ service after April 5, 1978.

The police pension scheme argued that as Mr Carter was married to his first wife throughout his service and retired before 1978 when the rule changed was introduced, no widow’s benefit will be payable to his current wife.

The couple took Essex Police to court claiming the rules of the pension scheme were unlawfully discriminatory.

They argued the rule discriminated against a widow of an officer who retired before 1978 and against widows of men above 90.

As part of his pension Mr Carter was required to pay a contribution of 5 per cent of his salary and in return upon retirement he would be entitled to a pension of two-thirds of his final salary.

Between 1948 and 1982, his contribution grew to 11 per cent.

Justice Pepperall argued that by comparison to police officers nowadays, Mr Carter had paid lower rates of contribution for a significantly more generous final salary scheme.

An officer joining the force now would have to work for 27 years and 8 months and wait until age 60 before being able to draw a pension worth half of their salary.

However he noted that Mr Carter’s was less generous in that it could not be passed on to his spouse.

Despite this Justice Pepperall found Mr Carter had failed to prove the rule change put him at "a particular disadvantage" and dismissed the claim.

The 1987 Police Pension Scheme provides a pension for the widow, widower or civil partner of a police officer who dies but the benefits cease to be paid if the surviving spouse remarries or cohabits with another partner.

The rules were amended for pensions of police officers who died as a result of an injury on duty so that from April 2015 those spouses were allowed to remarry and could still keep their pensions.