Thousands of injured police officers have a former Met policewoman to thank for a test case ruling which will dramatically affect their pension rights.
Assessment of the pension entitlements of large numbers of injured officers had been put on hold pending the Appeal Court’s ruling on former policewoman Belinda Laws’ from Kempston landmark case.
Ms Laws’ career as a uniformed constable in the Met was destroyed in 1997 when she was badly assaulted while trying to handcuff a suspect in Trafalgar Square.
She was handed a pension of £1,850 per month, on the basis that the attack had left her 85 per cent disabled.
However, her case was reviewed in 2008 and her degree of disablement was re-assessed at just 25 per cent, reducing her injury pension to only £220 per month.
In confirming the examiner’s view, the Police Medical Appeal Board took into account the success of Ms Laws in 2008 when she obtained a law degree despite the chronic back pain she endures, along with irritable bowel syndrome and chronic fatigue syndrome.
However Appeal Court judges on Wednesday decided that the Board did not properly apply the Police Pension Regulations when investigating Ms Laws’ case - and restored her 85 per cent disability pension.
Ms Laws’ QC, Christopher Nugee, successfully argued that, when assessing her pension, the Board should have concentrated on whether there had been any “substantial alteration” in the degree of her disability since that had last been reviewed in 2005.
The Board’s “clearly flawed” decision was based on a misunderstanding of the medical evidence.
Ruling on the case, Lord Justice Laws, sitting with Lord Justice Munby and Lady Justice Black, said the Board had misconstrued the regulations.
And, although he accepted that Ms Laws’ law degree can be taken into account in subsequent reviews of her pension rights, the judge said its impact on her pension was “likely to be modest”.