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Justice for War Widows

Susan Rimmer

I have started a campaign, alongside the Wharfedale & Airedale Observer, calling for equal pension rights for War Widows.

We are urging the Government to grant equal rights to people who are claiming a War Widow's Pension following the death of their partners in active service.

Widows of servicemen who have been killed serving their country are entitled to a war widow's pension to help them financially support their families after suffering the trauma of losing their loved ones in active service.

War Widows who remarried either before 1973 or after 2005 can continue to claim the Pension after marrying for a second time. However, those who remarried within the 32 years between 1973 and 2005 cannot claim their pension while they are married to their new husbands, and I don't feel this is fair.

I have spoken to Otley resident Susan Rimmer, who is just one of the many war widows affected by this restriction. In 1972, her husband, Private James Lee was killed in service in Northern Ireland by a terrorist bomb. This was shortly before his first daughter was born, yet when Mrs Rimmer married another soldier in 1989 she lost her pension. She has been told by the Ministry of Defence that the only way to get it back is to get divorced, at which point she would be free to remarry, without losing her pension.

I feel that it isoutrageous that the widows of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country are subject to rules which prevent certain women from claiming a War Widows Pension, while others continue to claim. I support the campaign to end the restriction on War Widow Pension claims and will be calling for Parliament to change the law so that there are equal rights for War Widows.

To support the campaign, a petition has also be launched on Change.org, https://www.change.org/p/ministry-of-defence-justice-for-war-widows?platform=hootsuite, calling on the Ministry of Justice to remove the restriction preventing war widows, who remarried between 1973 and 2005, from claiming a War Widow's Pension in respect of their late husband and to give equal pension rights to all war widows.