A prominent legal figure is suing the Scottish Government over claims ministers discriminated against him because he was a part-time worker.

Colin McEachran QC has launched an employment tribunal against the government because he received no pension for his role heading up the country’s war pension appeals body.

The retired advocate - who acted in major cases such as inquiries into Lockerbie and the Piper Alpha disaster - was president of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal for Scotland (PATS) for 18 years between 1995 and 2013.

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He claims that during that time he did similar work to other full-time judicial figures, such as Lands Tribunal president Lord McGhie, but while they received a pension, he did not.

At a hearing in Edinburgh, employment judge Laura Doherty heard that PATS deals with appeals from injured or ill ex-servicemen and women who have had their claims for a War Pension rejected by the Secretary of State for Defence.

Mr McEachran, 79, told the tribunal that he had 30 years’ experience of working in Scotland’s courts when he took up the role with PATS.

“I had been at the bar for 30 years, I had a pretty close knowledge of how the courts work,” he said. “ I had been working in personal injury cases and PATS is about injuries to ex-servicemen and women. They raised the same kind of issues.”

The QC claimed that while he was president, he dealt with complex cases including PTSD and bullying claims, as well as hearings involving personnel who were exposed to atomic radiation during Britain’s nuclear tests on Christmas Island in the 50s and 60s.

However, Advocate Calum MacNeill QC, representing the Scottish ministers, put it to Mr McEachran that PATS hearings took a “less formal approach” to proceedings compared to other tribunals and courts and the ex-president agreed.

Mr MacNeill added that PATS hearings only usually last between 60 and 90 minutes, with “no question of anyone being put on oath”. Mr McEachran agreed.

The tribunal also heard from David Inglis, the secretary of PATS, who said it was “highly unlikely” that Mr McEachran had dealt with the complex cases he claimed to, but it was possible that “a couple of cases” may have slipped through the net.

He said this was because many of these cases were sisted, or put on hold, pending the outcome of test cases.

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The witness - who joined PATS just months before Mr McEachran retired - also described PATS hearings as “half baked loaves of bread” because “the facts in the case, the evidence relied upon, is already altogether in a self contained bundle”.

Advocate Douglas Fairley QC, representing Mr McEachran, put it to Mr Inglis that there were several similarities between Ms McEachran’s work and the work of Lord McGhie and another official in the Lands Tribunal.

He said: “All three of them dealt with specialised subject matter?”

Mr Inglis agreed.

The lawyer added: “All three of them would hear evidence at an oral hearing?”

Mr Inglis replied: “Yes, that’s correct.”

Mr Fairley said that all three also worked with lay members to reach decisions, held fact-finding roles, and applied the law to reach reasoned decisions. The witness agreed.

The QC added that the bodies they worked for both required “high calibre lawyers capable of acting judicially” and members who were “able to exercise sound judgment”. Mr Inglis said: “I would hope so yes.”

The Scottish Government is claiming that the other legal officials received pensions because their roles were included in the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993.

Mr MacNeill said: “The reason why the comparators were treated in the way we are describing is because it was mandated. Comparators were given a pension because their posts were included in the 1993 Act.”

Mr McEachran’s case has been ongoing for six years. Last year, he won a part of his case which centred on whether or not he and the other office holders were all employed by the Scottish ministers under the same contract.