A SURREY policeman who had to retire from the job he loved due to back injuries suffered during a 1999 gun amnesty operation has won £60,000 in compensation.

Philip Dunford, 47, of West Street, Farnham, had launched a High Court bid for six-figure compensation from Surrey Police on Monday.

He claimed that while unloading illegal firearms for destruction at a Kent steelworks in November 1999 he suffered the injury which was to end his career.

By Tuesday Mr Dunford had reached an agreement with the force.

His counsel, Giles Eyre, had argued officers involved in the operation should have been warned "as to the risk of injury from repeatedly throwing firearms out of the van by hand".

But the force denied liability in the case, claiming the "consequent sciatica" would have occurred anyway as he had a vulnerable disc in his back.

Mr Eyre told the High Court that unloading the weapons required Mr Dunford to "repeatedly bend forward, pick up between one and three firearms and twist to the side".

"Mr Dunford was employed with four other officers in transporting a consignment of firearms in a Ford Transit from Surrey to Sheerness Steelworks in Kent for destruction.

"These weapons had either been confiscated or collected as part of a general amnesty for illegal firearms held by the public.

There were at least 700 items and Mr Dunford is 6ft 3in tall.

"There was insufficient height for him to stand upright in the rear of the van.

"To unload the firearms it was necessary for him to stand in the confined space at the rear of the van and repeatedly bend forward, pick up between one and three firearms, and twist to the side while throwing the firearms out of the van."

Lawyers for Surrey Police argued there was no foreseeable risk of injury, and even had a risk assessment been carried out no hazard would have been identified.

But by Tuesday Surrey Police agreed to compensate Mr Dunford £61,388 for his pain and suffering and loss of earnings since November 2001 when he was medically retired from the force.

Mr Dunford's legal costs bills will also be paid by the force.

He said later that although pleased with the payout he was "very sad the accident occurred".

He explained: "It has had a major impact on my life.

"I am so sad I had to end a deeply satisfying career in such a way.

"Being in the police force was a very important part of my life.

"It was a very worthwhile role in which I felt I was well-suited and able to help others."