Page last updated at 10:59 GMT, Friday, 16 April 2010 11:59 UK

Court backs bereaved partner of policeman over pension

Police crash vehicle
The policemen died on the road between Warrenpoint and Kilkeel

Denying a special pension award to the unmarried partner of a police officer killed in a crash was unlawful, the High Court has ruled.

Debbie Morrison was discriminated against on the grounds of her marital status by regulations which could not be justified, Mr Justice Treacy said.

Her partner, Kevin Gorman, was one of four policemen killed in a crash in Warrenpoint in November 2008.

Ms Morrison was pregnant with their second child at the time.

She had taken time off from her job as a residential social worker and was said to have been dependent on her partner's income.

Even though provisions were made for her children, and an ex-gratia payment made to her, Ms Morrison only received a small pension due to Mr Gorman's limited length of service.

He had joined the PSNI just over a year before he was killed.

Ms Morrison's lawyers sought to judicially review her classification as ineligible for an award under the PSNI and PSNI Reserve (Injury Benefit) Regulations 2006 because she was not a surviving spouse or civil partner of an officer killed in the line of duty.

They argued it was perverse and inconsistent with arrangements for soldiers and other members of the emergency services.

In his judgment Mr Justice Treacy said he was satisfied that she had been discriminated against on the grounds of her marital status.

The judge stressed this was not enough to make good her claim, pointing out that the onus was on the state to justify it.

A further hearing will now be held to decide on remedies, including whether to quash the relevant regulations.



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