Home Secretary Jack Straw is being urged to close a legal loophole which will enable a former Bradford fireman convicted of sex offences against children to claim long-service benefits.

Malcolm Vickers, 55, was ordered to serve 27 months in jail by a judge at Bradford Crown Court last month, and will have to join the police paedophile register for ten years.

Although he committed the offences while serving as a fire officer at Bradford, and was suspended by West Yorkshire Fire Authority when the allegations came to light, he retired from the brigade at the turn of the year.

After a career spanning almost 30 years, the fact that he retired before being convicted means his benefits remain intact and he will be able to claim a lump-sum payment on his release from prison.

Now Bradford councillor Tony Niland, a member of the West Yorkshire Fire Authority, has written to Jack Straw and urged him to review the system. Today Coun Niland (Lab, Wyke) said: "The fire authority has confirmed that Vickers was suspended for a period, but reached retirement age and retired a couple of months before the case came to court.

"I am not trying to stop Mrs Vickers from getting any benefits to which she is clearly entitled. What I object to is the fact that a man convicted of sex offences against young children will have a lump sum waiting for him when he comes out of jail.''

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Fire Authority said it was governed by fire service pension regulations, which apply nationally and cannot be changed at a local level.

Vickers' "long and distinguished" service was well documented at his trial.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.