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Man wins equal pension benefits claim

Human rights organisation Liberty has helped a man win his legal battle to secure equal pension benefits for his civil partner.

John Walker worked for a chemicals group for more than 20 years – and has been in a relationship with his civil partner for almost as long. He joined the company’s pension scheme expecting that, upon his death, his partner would receive a pension – as surviving spouses do under the scheme.

But the firm used an exemption in the Equality Act 2010 to refuse to treat Mr Walker’s civil partner as a “spouse”.

Liberty brought a claim in the Employment Tribunal on Mr Walker’s behalf – arguing that such discrimination contravenes both European Union law and the European Convention on Human Rights. The Tribunal agreed – ruling that not paying Mr Walker’s partner the same pension they would pay a surviving spouse was indeed discriminatory.

Corinna Ferguson, legal officer for Liberty, said: “The situation was clearly discriminatory – if John had dissolved his civil partnership and married a woman, she would have been immediately entitled to a full spousal pension in the event of his death.

“Hopefully this victory will provide vital further clarification of the legislation in this area and help pave the way for fair and equal pension rights for all civil partners.”

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