London

Girl wins rights to dead father's police pension

The three-year-old daughter of an unmarried police officer, who died before she was born, has won a legal battle for a share of his pension.

Tabitha Oxer-Patey was born in November 2010, five months after Richard Oxer died on a work night out with friends.

Mr Oxer, from Sutton, was in a six-year relationship with another Met Police officer, Theresa Patey.

London's High Court ruled that police pension regulations were unjust in discriminating against his daughter.

Rules 'discriminate'

The court heard that the Police Pensions Regulations 1987 states that pensions should be paid to the children of officers who die while in service.

However the regulations discriminate between legitimate and illegitimate children, though only in relation to children born after the death of the officer, the court heard.

Children born before the death of the officer are entitled to a pension whether they are legitimate or illegitimate, said counsel Ben Cooper.

He told Mr Justice Supperstone that such discrimination was contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Mr Cooper argued that it was not legitimate to penalise the child for the decisions of its parents.

The judge said the discrimination could not be justified on objective and reasonable grounds and that Tabitha was entitled to an allowance since her birth.

'Still in womb'

The Metropolitan Police did not concede the case as it said it could not override the regulations but took a neutral stance and did not oppose it. The police will also pay Ms Patey's legal costs of £16,494.

Employment lawyer Simon Cuthbert, who represented Tabitha and her mother, said: "It's a very small point of law that meant that because Tabitha was still in her mother's womb and hadn't actually been born when her father tragically died, she wasn't entitled to anything.

"If her mother and father had been married, things would have been different but because they weren't she wasn't entitled to anything."

He added the case would have a large impact on the "future financial security" of the child.

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