Wirz loses High Court challenge

BREAKING: Northumbria and PMAB’s Regulation 37 methodology DEFEATED in a judicial review.
Fisher, R (on the application of) v The Chief Constable of Northumbria & Anor [2017] EWHC 455 (Admin) (08 March 2017)

Nicholas Wirz, Northumbria Police’s principal solicitor as well as the National Wellbeing & Engagement Forum’s (NWEF/NAMF) self-declared legal advisor, has suffered a humiliating legal defeat over his unlawful interpretation of comparators used by many SMPs and PMABs to calculate earning capacity.

A feature length blog on the implications of the Fisher v Northumbria judgement will follow soon.  This judicial review quashes the decision of a PMAB panel that, in 2016, reduced him from a band 3 to a band 1.  It is the culmination of a 11 year battle fought against Wirz and Northumbria police.

Shockingly this isn’t the first time Mr Fisher has had his injury pension unlawfully reduced.  The Journal (along with The Chronicle, it is part of the North East’s most popular newspaper group) printed in 2008 a feature concerning the odious vendetta of Wirz against this former officer.

In March 1998 The Journal reported that his injury pension had been reduced before, by £1200, only to be restored on appeal.  The article described how Mr Fisher was medically retired from Northumbria police after being called to the Kirkley Hall mink farm on the outskirts of Ponteland, Northumberland, to police an animal rights demonstration, when a cross-breed Rottweiler sank his teeth into his lower right arm. The animal had been fed on the remains of dead minks and Mr Fisher spent five days in hospital undergoing numerous emergency surgeries when the wound became infected.

He needed almost 40 stitches to the gash and his injuries were so severe he lost full control of the fingers in his hand.  This incident was the culmination of fighting the symptoms of PTSD after being injured in an on-duty knife attack in 1992.

The Chronicle recently published that on Wednesday 8th March, Mr Justice Garnham allowed Mr Fisher’s challenge against the Chief Constable of Northumbria and the PMAB:
Bitten policeman battles off bid to slash his pension

The grounds lost by Northumbria have implications on any SMP or PMAB decision where the earning capacity was based on comparative earnings as well as where the decision made fails to give sufficient reasoning to identify, at least, the basis for the medical authority’s conclusion on uninjured comparators.

We will keep our readers up to date on the ramifications and discuss how a reconsideration, or the Pension Ombudsman, can be used to relook at unsafe historical revisions to injury awards.

The decision of the PMAB has been quashed by Justice Garnham.  Points 1 & 4 (below) were won in favour of Mr Fisher and the PMAB decision has been overturned.  Points 2 & 3 failed but the judge made it clear in his judgment that a reasoned decision of uninjured earning capacity has to be made by the decision maker.  The corollary is that picking random jobs has to be justified and reasoned.

The PMAB, as a delegated decision maker on behalf Of the Chief Constable, made the following errors in reaching this decision:

  • The PMAB erred because it failed to use the Claimant’s potential police earnings as the uninjured earnings comparator;
  • Further the Chief Constable erred in back-dating the effect of the decision to 27 February 2015 and thus claiming that the Chief Constable had overpaid the Claimant when, in law, the decision only took effect at the date that it was made by the PMAB and so there no back-dating.


Wirz loses High Court challenge
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18 thoughts on “Wirz loses High Court challenge

  • 2017-03-14 at 8:03 am

    I have followed Northumbria’s strategic approach for a few years. I’ve never worked for them and make my observations as a retired officer, injured on duty.

    So we have Crudace, Simpson, Haworth, Fisher last week (x2). They won Clemenstine and Doyle who were eventually IHR. However, this case was eventually replaced by the Sharp decision from West Yorkshire.

    So what is it with Northumbria. There appears to be an entrenched and long standing internalised culture to demonise police pensioners. No doubt the decison makers at Northumbria believe that the injured pensioners are a burden who dare to claim what they are lawfully entitled to. The whole process has been corrupted to cast the pensioners as lazy frauds predicated on a sense of entitlement. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    An injury on duty results in a loss of career. That’s visible, it’s tangible. What about the intangible things, loss of opportunities for advancement. The injuries and the effects on family also are ignored.

    In the world of accountancy driven policing the review process is sold as a panacea to budgetary constraints. The terms legally incumbent and moral duty do not enter the equation.

    The only people making money appear to be the SMP’s and Counsel instructed by Northumbria. How much money, tax payers money has been wasted on the SMP and Counsels fees. How will Northumbria put right the stress and anxiety they have caused.

    PCC Vera Baird your a QC, get a grip. If I was in her shoes I’d sack Lesley Anne Knowles and Wirz, let’s not forget Broome and Cheng wouldn’t even land.

  • 2017-03-13 at 4:54 pm

    Excellent result for Stan and Mel. I await the day when the despicable Wirz and co are forced to face justice for their actions. It sickens me to think that they and their kind have been allowed for so long to carry on perpetrating such crimes in the full knowledge of the damage they cause. I hope to still be around when they are held to account.

  • 2017-03-12 at 11:32 pm

    There is now an ever growing team who are determined to make sure that all IOD Pension rules and regulations are followed to the letter rather than in the manner in which these little jumped up pratts like Wirz who are putting their own interpretation and made up amendments to absolutely destroy what was put in place to protect Police Officers at whatever level they were injured being reduced by as much as possible . Not to mention how much it will now cost the Police Forces to put right the unlawful actions of these supposed representatives of the Police legal services departments! Maybe it’s time for reports of these criminal actions to be brought against them and the Chief Constables that are supposedly responsible for them?

  • 2017-03-11 at 1:32 pm

    Disgusting treatment of this former officer. I am pleased to see the matter rectified but at what mental cost to Mr Fisher and his family, what a waste to the public purse? As an injured on duty officer suffering from complex PTSD and other injuries I will describe for the uninitiated what living with PTSD is like. You cannot sleep chronic insomnia, you suffer nightmares, night sweats, panic attacks, that leave you a trembling mess. You take pills that have little or no effect depending on how bad you are. You become reclusive, your own mind being the most restrictive prison there is. You effectively become a missing person which leaves you living with terror you cannot fight nor run from. The effects on your family lead to marital stress because you are afraid to leave your home to drive your spouse to the supermarket. There is no joy in your life, just fear 24/7 it matters not that you weigh 100kgs of muscle and bone your mind is shattered. To have put this man through this is unforgivable. When will people who run a public authority realise that you are accountable for all this, these things happen on your watch and you do nothing to stop the systematic abuse of men and women who served and protected. Malfeasance/misconduct in public office is not beyond the realms of possibility. Get your act together and stop this abuse of regulations and the mountain of case law which keeps on being added to.

  • 2017-03-11 at 8:28 am

    A great step forward, brilliant news.

  • 2017-03-11 at 12:29 am

    Vicarious liability. When a force employs any person to sort out their business, including sub-contractors, they become equally liable. If they do damage… both do damage.. If further suffering has resulted, the only remit is to sue for it.

  • 2017-03-10 at 11:59 pm

    Police Forces take advantage of former officers who are at their lowest point. It should be a crime!

  • 2017-03-10 at 7:58 pm

    These hideous immoral people will be exposed and it seams are starting to be. This poor guy and thousands like him have and are putting there arse in a very dangerous sling 24/7 , 365 days a year.So to be abused by these morons is truly hideous.
    I know that these so called medics and there ACPOO sponsors don’t know or care about moral injury which compounds PTSI and many other cop injuries.
    Maybe one day they can come and live in side my fucked up PTSI head, its not a nice place and very hard work.
    They will become victims of the law all criminals do, in the words of a old mentor,we only have to get lucky one day, they have to live there criminal lives every day lucky. They are simply criminals preying on the vulnerable, payed for by ACPOO.

  • 2017-03-10 at 7:43 pm

    What a great result for Stan. I only wish some sort of action could have been taken about the ridiculous jobs they come up with anywhere in the uk. These points need looking at again but will take another JR and am not sure if they will ever be changed. However this is still a great result.

  • 2017-03-10 at 12:50 pm

    How much damage is a solicitor allowed to do when he has guilty knowledge of his actions are they not subject to a code of conduct? There must be offences committed by this odious shit hee should be pursued for them.

    • 2017-03-10 at 1:25 pm

      He’s doing it with the Chief’s consent. The odious fella wouldn’t do it otherwise.

  • 2017-03-10 at 11:27 am

    This is plainly excellent news and a highly deserved bloody nose for Wirtz. Wirtz and Northumbria have made this case personal, and upon it, everything else rests. I do not agree with the perception that a civilian, with comparatively no experience in the jobs market can make a decision that Mr Fisher, could earn £25K in South Wales or £29K in Surrey, when he lives in Morpeth.
    This quite frankly is stupid.
    When the heads start rolling down the road, they will be civilian minnows, served up, by the establishment to take the hit, for the middle management idiots, I hope the DWP, suggest they all move to Surrey.

    The cold clear truth is this.

    You can have served 15, 20 or 25 years in the Police Force, and have excellent skills as far as a police Officer is concerned, it counts for diddly squat in the open jobs market.

    It is a shame that points two and three failed, but, that day will come again.

    We will never give up, and will fight everyone until the absolute death if necessary.

    When I responded to a call, all those years ago, because no one else could be arsed to, I went to the incident, involving a person with a sword.
    The thought that I would eventually end up being injured, and subsequently thrown out of the Force never entered my head.

    Mr Fisher had exactly the same thought processes. Our brave service personnel all
    have the same positive attitude.

    However we all share the same domestic danger, when we should feel safe, appreciated for unselfish acts, for the benefit of the Desk jockeys and the Civvies who are now in charge of the asylum.

    That common domestic danger, is being ” Shafted ” by the very people who asked us to respond to danger in the first instance, and those that if they saw, smelt, or heard anything dangerous at all, would hide under their desks like the frightened Rats they really are.

    Wirtz was a bully. He has been taken down a peg or two, and that will be foremost certainly in my thinking for the future.

    Northumbria Police. What can you say? Corrupt? Of course, they ALL are.

    Round 1 to the good guys!

  • 2017-03-10 at 11:13 am

    The people responsible for these decisions need to be held to account…punitive measures applied, so others will think twice in future! Its the only way to stop this!

  • 2017-03-10 at 9:37 am

    Which law firm argued the case?

  • 2017-03-10 at 9:23 am

    Excellent news.

  • 2017-03-10 at 9:12 am

    Justice done? Absolutely !! Time for the injured to reflect Yes, I hope that those who bring misery to injured officers have a restless sleep at night. the fight will continue and “WE WONT BACK DOWN” in the face of intimidation and mis carriage of justice.

  • 2017-03-10 at 7:35 am

    Justice. Seen to be done. Now some time for self reflection, by those people who seek to injure the already injured.

    • 2017-03-10 at 9:39 am

      Warts will just plot another way of giving injured colleagues a verucca.

Comments are closed.

This group of police force HR managers, occupational health personnel and the odd force solicitor is supposedly concerned in its quarterly meetings with keeping the police workforce fit and well. The clue is in the name - it is supposed to concentrate on people who work. However, it spends time also considering matters relating to disabled former officers. Quite what legitimates this group's interest in disabled private citizens who are in receipt of a police injury pension is a mystery.

The mystery deepens when it is revealed that the Home Office and representatives of the commercial company which has the contract to run Police Medical Appeal Boards, HML, also regularly appear on the list of delegates. The mystery morphs into something smelling of conspiracy when the delegate list is entirely absent of any representative of any of the people whose lives the NAMF seeks to affect. There is nobody from the Police Federation, nor from NARPO, nor anyone from any disablement charity, mental health association, etc. etc. In other words, the NAMF is a one-sided talking shop. Even at that level it is not properly representative of all police forces, for we note that there are rarely, if ever, delegates present from every area.

Those of us with long memories, recollect that the Home Office claimed that it had conducted what it called a 'survey' of all forces, way back in 2004, prior to finalising its unlawful guidance issued as Annex C to HO circular 46/2004. The HO claimed that their survey showed that it was common practice for forces to review the degree of disablement of injury-on-duty pensioners once they reached what would have been normal force retirement age. This is what the guidance said:

'This Guidance is being issued to help ensure a fairer, more cohesive approach to the payment of injury benefits to ill-health retired officers who have reached the compulsory retirement age with their Force. A recent survey found that practice in this area was diverse. Some forces automatically reduced degree of disablement benefits to the lowest banding when this age had been reached - others continued to pay benefits at the same rate until the death of the Officer concerned.'

The plain truth, revealed through Freedom of Information Act requests, was that there never was any survey. The HO later tried to claim that the bold, unmistakable claim made in its guidance resulted from 'round the table discussions' at meetings of the NAMF. Yet nothing even hinting at such discussions appeared in the minutes and the HO could not produce a single scrap of data nor any record or any other evidence to show quite how it had come to the conclusion that some forces automatically reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age.

Shockingly, further research revealed that absolutely no forces, not a single one out of the 43 in England and Wales, had ever reduced benefits to the lowest band at what would have been normal force retirement age, automatically or otherwise. The Home Office was caught out in a blatant lie. It was a lie intended for one purpose only - its actually intent was to give an air of normalcy to the huge change in practice which the HO wished to bring about.

This astounding act by a Government department tells us what the NAMF was then, and remains now. It's objective in so far as police injury on duty pensions is concerned, is to subvert the law of the land. The law cannot be changed retrospectively, so the inner circle work to find ways to unlawfully manipulate it through influencing gullible HR managers, and by training carefully selected corruptible SMPs how to refuse grant of an injury award and how to conduct reviews which reduce the degree of disablement of retired officers.

And so the machinations of the NAMF continue...