Partner Of RAF Officer Who Died In Service Wins Right To Military Pension

Jane Langford had lived with Air Commodore Christopher Green for 15 years when he died unexpectedly in May 2011.

The long-term partner of an RAF officer who died suddenly in service is entitled to compensation despite never having divorced her estranged husband, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

Jane Langford, who is in her early 70s, had lived with Air Commodore Christopher Green for 15 years when he died unexpectedly in May 2011.

But Mrs Langford's claim for compensation was rejected because she had remained married to her husband, Alan Langford, from whom she had been estranged for 17 years.

Under the Armed Forces compensation scheme, partners are entitled to a guaranteed income payment until death and a bereavement grant.

But Mrs Langford claimed the rule, which excludes partners of members of the Armed Forces who remain married to another person, was "unlawfully discriminatory".

At a hearing in June, her barrister Chris Buttler argued "it would be disproportionately harsh to withhold benefits from those who have lost a breadwinner for want of compliance with a technicality".

Giving judgment in London on Wednesday, senior judges upheld her appeal, finding the rule was "unlawful and cannot be justified or proportionate in Mrs Langford's case".

Mrs Langford previously claimed entitlement to an Armed Forces pension, but her claim was dismissed by the High Court in 2015 as the pension scheme also excluded partners of members of the Armed Forces who were married to another person.

Christopher Green
Air Cdre Christopher Green died in 2011 (Picture: RAF).

She told Forces News she did not want anyone else to go through a situation she says was an "injustice" and "nonsensical".

"[Air Cdre Green] was a proud man and he wouldn't have wanted me to be pretty well destitute.

"He would've been very embarrassed and a bit ashamed by that."

Lord Justice McCombe said the "broad exclusionary rule" barring married partners from receiving such compensation was "a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

The judge added: "I would accept that it is a legitimate aim of the scheme to achieve parity of treatment between married and unmarried partners of scheme members.

"But such parity is in reality achieved not by imposing restrictions based on a partner's marital status, but by requiring the demonstration of a substantial, exclusive and financially dependent relationship in practice."