The Armed Forces Pension Group (AFPG) was formed as a Campaigning Organisation in 1996. AFPG was incorporated as a Company, Limited by Guarantee, in 2005 in order to safeguard the members and especially the committee against legal costs in its campaign for fair treatment in respect of pensions.
The remit of AFPG was to challenge the decision by Her Majesty’s Government to exclude former regular members of HM Forces from receiving any pension if their service expired before April 1975 and where the individual had not then completed 17 years commissioned service or 22 years non-commissioned service.
The challenge culminated in action being taken through the High Court with a final hearing in the Court of appeal at The Royal Courts of Justice on Tuesday 4th November 2003. The Action failed. A further attempt was made in 2005/2006 to take the Case to The European courts of Human Rights but, in this case, the matter was considered to be outside the remit of the ECHR.
There followed a Campaign, supported by over 3000 members, to raise the issue through the UK Parliament on the basis that the arbitrary exclusion of the said category of ex-service personnel from the benefits of the 1973 Pensions Act was morally indefensible and wholly reprehensible. In due course the Campaign received the support of over 250,000 members of the public who signed a petition which was handed in to 10 Downing Street.
In addition to presentation of the Petition members of AFPG on two occasions formed-up and laid a wreath at The Cenotaph before proceeding to Parliament and the lobbying of members’ MP.
Over the past five years over 250 members have, in Naval terminology, ‘crossed the bar’. The average age is closer to 80 and it has been decided that now is the time when AFPG Limited is wound-up. After all outstanding bills have been paid any residuum will be made over to the Union Jack Club. In the meantime the bulk of the financial assets, namely £24,000, it has been agreed by members shall be distributed equally to: The Royal Naval Benefit Trust; The Army Benevolent Fund; The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund. Each of these will be presented with a cheque for £8,000 at the Union Jack Club at 14:00 on Thursday 3rd September 2015.
Members of the News Media are invited to attend but are required to have notified the Director in advance so that clearance for admission to The Union Jack Club can be assured.
This is a sad day but the beneficiaries are acknowledged as being worthy recipients of what is in effect the remaining sum out of almost £1,4 million that was funded by members. All we sought was fair treatment which was interpreted as “Equality with other Crown Servants”. Successive Prime Ministers, the MoD and HM Treasury through a deliberate process of ‘base spaniel fawnings’ and obfuscation have let down, most dishonourably, those who volunteered to uphold the interests of The United Kingdom at home and abroad as dictated by Her Majesty’s Government from time to time.