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Same-sex pension ruling to cost £90m after former cavalry officer wins landmark legal battle

 John Walker, 61, took chemical company Innospec to court

 Firm refused to pay widow's pension to his partner of 19 years in the event of his death

 Tribunal rules he was discriminated against under European law

A gay couple have won a landmark legal battle over pension rights that could see businesses landed with a £90 million bill.

Former cavalry officer John Walker took chemical company Innospec to court after it refused to pay his partner of 19 years the equivalent of a widow’s pension in the event of his death because of a Government loophole.

But in a test case, an employment tribunal ruled that Old Harrovian Mr Walker – who had worked for the firm for 20 years – had been discriminated against under European law because of his sexual orientation, and that his partner should receive a full payout.

The ruling could lead to scores of other gay couples demanding pension rights are upheld and lead to an embarrassing U-turn by the Government when it introduces controversial gay marriage legislation next year.

Ministers have made it clear they plan to keep the same loophole, which states firms can disregard pension contributions built up before the law on civil partnerships was introduced in 2005.

Mr Walker, 61, met his partner, a 48-year-old former computer executive who does not wish to be named, in Singapore 19 years ago, and the couple were one of the first to enter into a civil partnership.

In heterosexual marriages, spouses are normally entitled to between half and two-thirds of their partners’ pensions if they die before them.

Innospec initially said it would pay Mr Walker’s partner £500 a year rather than £40,000 – the equivalent of a widow’s pension.

The Manchester tribunal ruled such discrimination contravened EU law, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Equality Act 2010.

Innospec refused to comment.

Same Sex Pension Ruling

January 2013 Home