Gurkha veterans betrayed by UK government

The UK government released new rules today, clarifying the application criteria for Gurkhas who wish to settle in the United Kingdom.

The government had originally denied the automatic right to settle here to any Gurkha who had retired before 1997, but this was overturned in the High Court last year. The judge, Mr Justice Blake, said the Gurkhas’ long service, conspicuous acts of bravery and loyalty to the Crown all pointed to a “moral debt of honour” and gratitude felt by British people. He ruled that instructions given by the Home Office to immigration officials were unlawful and needed urgent revision.

The Gurkhas have served all across the world in the defence of our Country for nearly 200 years. Over 45,000 died in the two World Wars as part of the British Army. They are still fighting in the British Army today.

The governments new rules mean that permission to settle in the United Kingdom for those who retired before 1997 may be granted if they meet one of the following:

  • Have spent at least three years continuous lawful residence in the United Kingdom during or after service;
  • Have close family settled in the United Kingdom with whom you enjoy family life within the meaning of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR);
  • Received a Level 1-3 Award for gallantry, leadership or bravery for service in the Brigade; (Level 1: Victoria Cross; Level 2: DSO/DCM, DSO/DCM Bar, IDSM (India Distinguished Service Medal); Level 3: Military Cross, Military Cross Bar Military Medal, Military Medal Bar, Jangi Inam)
  • Completed 20 or more years’ service in the Brigade;
  • Have a chronic/long term medical condition which is attributable to, or was aggravated by, service in the Brigade.

If they do not qualify under any of the above, permission to settle in the United Kingdom may also be granted if they meet any two of the following:

  • Were previously awarded a United Kingdom Ministry of Defence disability pension, but no longer have a chronic/long term medical condition attributable to, or aggravated by, service in the Brigade;
  • Received a Mention in Dispatches (Level 4 Award) for service in the Brigade;
  • Completed 10 years service in the Brigade or served less than 10 years but received a campaign medal for active service in the Brigade.

Now, I don’t quite know to express my anger over this. When these Gurkhas were recruited, they didn’t have to jump through hoops to prove their loyalty to this country in order to serve. No, that’s not correct, they do have to jump through hoops, the small number of places each year are hotly contested, so they have to go through a recruitment contest to get the right to join up. The vast majority will have signed up for the standard army term of 15 years, so that discounts one of the new criteria. This just doesn’t seem right for people who have loyally fought for this country.

Looking at some questions asked of the Secretary of State for Defence in 2002, the average length of service makes interesting reading:

In 2002, for British nationals, an army officer served 11.36 years and a Gurkha officer served for 22.40 years. For a British national soldier the average length of service is 8.26 years and a Gurkha is 9.10 years. So, by setting 20 years as a criteria, it looks like the Gurkhas are being held to a higher level of ‘loyalty’ than British nationals even achieve.

We have set numbers of immigrants that are allowed into the country from other parts of Europe and outside of Europe. These people haven’t already served this country before they come here and they may never do.

I have visited the Gurkha Justice Campaign website and signed their petition. If you are a UK resident, please consider doing the same.

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