Row over veteran pension heading to court

Action: Paul Burns, left, with retired firefighter Reggie Berry, demonstrating outside Lancashire fire HQ in 2009

Action: Paul Burns, left, with retired firefighter Reggie Berry, demonstrating outside Lancashire fire HQ in 2009

A long-running row over pension payments made to a fire service veteran who retired after being injured in the line of duty is heading to the courts.

In 2008, a group of former Lancashire firefighters, many with injuries which have left them sick or permanently disabled, were given demands to pay back up to tens of thousands of pounds after fire bosses told them their pensions had been overpaid.

Lancashire Combined Fire Authority (CFA) issued the repayment letters to firefighters who retired with special ill-health awards added to their pensions because they were injured on duty with the service.

The authority said at the time special awards were affected if a firefighter was receiving state benefits from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for the same injury.

The demands were allegedly issued after fire bosses wrote to around 150 retired firefighters asking for permission to access their DWP records.

Now, five years later, a case will come to court next month, with the combined fire authority bringing a claim against veteran Paul Burns, 69, regarding the alleged overpayment of his pension.

The value of the claim has not been disclosed.

It is understood Mr Burns, from Kings Drive, Preston, who served in Lancashire for 35 years, will put his own arguments to the fire authority during the case.

The case, CFA v Paul Peter Burns, is due to be heard at Blackpool County Court starting on February 12 and is due to be held for three and a half days.

Several witnesses will be called during the hearing, likely to include former firefighters.

Mr Burns, who has represented fellow fire service veterans during the long-running dispute, has previously the demands to repay money have caused hardship and distress for many of the injured firefighters.

A spokesman for the fire service today said: “In advance of a court hearing I cannot of course give details, but I can confirm that a dispute between Lancashire Combined Fire Authority and a retired former employee is to be heard at Blackpool County Court next month.”


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