A group of expat pensioners hoping to receive a payout from the British government have lost an appeal at the European Court of Human Rights.
Expats living in countries including Australia, Canada, South Africa and New Zealand do not receive the same pension rights as those who emigrate to other European Union countries, the US, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway, Turkey and Liechtenstein.
Those in the first group have their pensions ‘frozen’ at the time they settle abroad, so they do not receive increases in line with inflation as British residents and other expats do.
Judges at the court ruled that denying index-linked pension rises to some expats does not constitute a breach of their human rights.
The verdict is the last stage in an eight-year battle a group of 13 retired expatriates fought with the UK government. The group lost at each stage of their wrangle and saw their test case appear before numerous courts in Britain and Europe.
John Markham, director of UK parliamentary affairs for the International Consortium of British Pensioners, commented afterwards: "The ruling is completely indefensible and will leave half a million pensioners facing the possibility of destitution."
He said all British people should have the choice about where to live in retirement.
"What the government is doing is utterly immoral, unjust and un-British," he added.
The ruling is likely to affect the pensions of more than half a million expats worldwide.
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