Police officers have won damages because bosses refused to listen to their admissions they were too fat, old and unfit to carry guns. The five men left their jobs guarding a nuclear base saying they should not be expected to be armed.
They complained they were neither physically nor psychologically able to cope with the demands of firing weapons or wearing body armour.
But their bosses in the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, an armed force paid for by energy companies, demanded they retract the claims or lose their jobs. Today, the men, all in their 50s, won an unfair dismissal case and are in line for compensation in August.
However, Chris McEvoy, of the Civil Nuclear Police Federation, said: ‘This was not about money. Ideally, they would like their jobs back but not be asked to carry guns.
‘They had given good service for years and then the constabulary rode roughshod over them because they had a sense of their own limitations. Arming them with guns may have been a hindrance, rather than a help.’
The five officers, based at Capenhurst, Cheshire, argued giving them guns would put the public in danger. Charles Shone, 58, claimed he had a dodgy knee which would ‘pop out’ and he was struggling to keep up with younger and fitter colleagues.
He said: ‘I used to be able to make critical and life-threatening decisions but I didn’t feel capable any more.
‘I did not want to be the person potentially pulling the trigger and being responsible for something catastrophic. My general fitness, my stamina, agility, reflexes, sight and hearing had all diminished.’
His brother, Harry, 57, said he was a ‘larger gentleman’ who struggled to carry the 34kg (74lb) of kit required by an armed officer. ‘I didn’t have any problems hitting a target but it was the running around with all that armour, for a man of my size, that was difficult,’ he said.
The brothers, along with colleagues Morgan Tudor, Steven Collins and Peter Jones, won their unfair dismissal case at an employment tribunal, which dismissed the CNC’s claims the men had been colluding to win a better redundancy deal.
Last month, a female officer at Sellafield won a sex discrimination case against the force because her gun was too big for her small hands.