The Court of Appeal has brought a five and a half year legal saga to an end by confirming efforts by the Chief Constable of South Yorkshire to reduce the period that a disability pension of a seriously injured retired police officer was payable were unlawful.
In the decision handed down on Friday 19 November, the Court of Appeal has confirmed police officers who are injured on duty are entitled to an injury pension from the date of retirement, as the pension rules provide, and a Chief Constable will act unlawfully if he only pays the pension from a later date.
The outcome is a victory for a long campaign by retired police officer, Sgt Lloyd Kelly, who was left with very serious mental health injuries after being exposed to horrific events during his time as a serving South Yorkshire police officer. When he retired, in 2005, he was so mentally unwell he did not realise that his serious PTSD, which was triggered by his police service, meant he was entitled to an additional, tax-free pension under the police pension scheme. No one from South Yorkshire Police alerted Sgt Kelly to the fact that he may be short-changed on his pension and so it was paid at a lower rate for 11 years.
Once Sgt Kelly was advised in 2016 by former officers that he may be entitled to the higher “injury on duty” award, he applied for the injury pension and was awarded a “major disablement” pension. However, the Chief Constable refused to pay the award from the date of his retirement in 2005, only paying the pension from 2016.
Sgt Kelly, with the support of the Police Federation of England and Wales, appealed to the Crown Court and was awarded the full pension in July 2017. However, the Chief Constable appealed the decision to the High Court, rather than pay the injured police officer the pension determined by the court. The Chief Constable’s appeal to the High Court was unsuccessful and he appealed a second time to the Court of Appeal. In a total victory for Mr Kelly, the Court of Appeal has now rejected all of the Chief Constable’s arguments and confirmed that injury pensions are payable for former police officers who are injured on duty from the date of retirement. The Court has also confirmed that the Crown Court can award interest on overdue sums.
This decision will not only benefit Mr Kelly but will also ensure that all other injured former police officers are able to establish their right to an injury pension from the date of retirement.
David Lock QC and Julia Smyth, instructed by Greta Mallinson of Slater and Gordon, acted for Mr Kelly in the Court of Appeal. David Lock QC acted for Mr Kelly in both the Crown Court and the High Court.