The Court of Appeal has today ruled on an appeal on police pensions. Widows and widowers will still be forced to choose between love and money due to arcane rules that prevent the surviving partners of police from marrying again and keeping the pension to which they are entitled.
The National Association of Retired Police Officers (NARPO) has been calling for a United Kingdom-wide policy on survivors’ pensions, which would see those who remarry or cohabit after the loss of their spouse retain their pension entitlement in full regardless of how their spouse died. This is the current model in Northern Ireland and is the UK-wide policy for widows, widowers and civil partners of Armed Forces personnel.
In May 2022, the Manchester Administrative Court ruled against a legal challenge brought by NARPO that would have put an end to police survivors having to make the terrible choice between companionship in later life and keeping their financial support. Whilst the judge, Mr Justice Fordham, dismissed the case, he granted the claimants permission to appeal on two specified grounds; the application of the right to marry and the judge’s decision on justification.
The Court of Appeal has now ruled against NARPO, stating that that the policy decision made by the Home Secretary not to retrospectively repeal Regulation C9 could, on balance, be justified. Appeal justices recognised the burden caused by Regulation C9, stating that it did not underestimate “the unfortunate potential effects of Regulation C9 upon the Appellants”.
On the advice of counsel, NARPO has taken the decision not to appeal to the Supreme Court, but will continue to fight this injustice outside of the courts.
Richard Critchley, President of NARPO, said:
“This is a bitter blow for our members – the partners of deceased police officers. The sorrow of bereavement was made worse by a failure of the courts to recognise the impact these outdated regulations have on their lives, overriding their right to marry under Article 12.
It is equally devastating for us at NARPO who have supported them as far as we can. This is not the end of the fight, and we will continue this battle outside of the courts.”
Mark McGhee, counsel to NARPO, said:
“We are deeply disappointed for all of the victims of regulation C9 who will now be forced to continue to choose between love and money.
We have considered all options and regrettably we cannot advise on an appeal, but hope that this fight will continue outside of the courts.”
The judgment in full can be found here.