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View Article  Save the Gurkha Regiment Campaign

Save the Gurkha Regiment Campaign

The campaign continues to grow but we still need so many more to back the issue.  We are using the Internet well, but it is critical that the campaign gets your help to get new followers too. So please spread the campaign website address to all your friends, colleagues and family and get them to complete the on-line form at the website:  www.savethegurkhas.co.uk

The Campaign is on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. And, if you have an account with the key Social Networks, please link, follow and comment on the campaign from your own accounts. These additional connections will help drive your followers to support the Campaign.

Please note though, only 1 signature per person on the on-line petition. You can also download a petition form to get hand written signatures at your office, business, shop, school and anywhere suitable and where those supporters without Internet access can support the campaign too. The form can be downloaded from the website www.savethegurkhas.co.uk.


Here are the campaign connection details to send to all your contacts, friends, family, colleagues.

  1. Petition Website:  www.savethegurkhas.co.uk  to lodge support on-line
  2. Join the Facebook Group called: Campaign to Save the Brigade of Gurkhas from being axed  and also -Follow the profile- Peter D Carroll
  3. Follow the Campaign on Twitter. The Twitter profile is called: savethegurkhas
  4. Visit YouTube videos of Peter Carroll being Interviewed by BBC and SKY: http://www.youtube.com/user/GurkhasCampaign
  5. LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=3376053  -Save the Gurkha Regiment Campaign-
  6. Email Contact: savethegurkhas@whynotcampaign.co.uk 
View Article  Cherie Blair accused of 'profiting from plight of Gurkha veterans'
.......
Cherie Blair has been accused of making money from Gurkhas by Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation president Padam Bahadur Gurung, right



Mr Gurung claims that Mr Shiner has now billed Gaeso over £147,000 for the rest.

He hit out after Defence Minister Kevan Jones accused groups like Gaeso of 'exploiting' Gurkhas by charging them £500 for needless advice before they fly to Britain.

Mr Gurung denounced this as a 'smear', claiming the MoD and a former legal adviser to the organisation, Gopal Siwakoti Chintan, had vilified the organisation and Joanna Lumley, who has links to Gaeso, to prevent it from continuing to fight for Gurkha rights.

He said: 'Gaeso has remained silent in face of severe and unsubstantiated criticism prompted mainly by the MoD and Siwakoti. We are now ready to expose these lies.

'The only time Gaeso raised money from its members was for the Gurkha pensions case.

'Siwakoti orchestrated an arrangement with Phil Shiner and Cherie Booth for the case, even though it was supposed to be funded under legal aid.

'Gurkhas were still required to pay Cherie Booth, Phil Shiner and Siwakoti's legal fees.

'Indeed, there is a letter from Phil Shiner which states that Gaeso were required to pay an outstanding £147,230.78.'

A spokesman for Cherie Booth at Matrix Chambers referred Mr Gurung's allegations to Mr Shiner.

Mr Shiner,  from Public Interest Lawyers which has pursued a number of high-profile cases against the MoD,  said: 'To imply that I have been involved in some kind of conspiracy with the MoD against Mr Gurung and Gaeso is ridiculous.'

He acknowledged that he had charged the organisation money, but explained: 'Although we did get legal aid funding, the ruling was that Gaeso should themselves make a part-contribution towards the cost.

'I continued working for Gaeso on other cases afterwards, and what I charged them related to those matters as well.

'Every single pound, every single penny, was accounted for.

'To bring this up now is an attempt by Mr Gurung to muddy the waters. I gather that he is facing some pretty serious allegations himself and he seems to be trying to deflect focus from that.'

Last month Defence Minister Kevan Jones ordered an inquiry amid claims that Gurkhas were being 'conned' into making the 'voluntary' £500 donation to Gaeso.

It came after MPs were told that Gurkhas hoping to move to Britain are being tricked out of their savings by 'unscrupulous' groups claiming they can help them settle here.

It has meant many former soldiers have ended up here facing poverty, homelessness and unemployment having spent their savings or borrowed money for flights and visas.

Miss Lumley spearheaded the campaign that saw the Nepalese soldiers who had served in the Army granted the right to live in Britain.

As a gesture of thanks, Gaeso took the actress on a victory tour of Nepal last year.

A MoD spokesman said: 'The MoD and Army are working closely with the Gurkha Welfare Trust in Nepal to ensure ex-Gurkhas make informed choices about coming to the UK.

'We have opened a Gurkha Settlement Office in Nepal which is offering ex-Gurkhas education about life in the UK and free help with visa applications.'

Foxnwolf comment;

This is turning out to be a bigger nest of Vipers than originally thought

View Article  Government had concerns over Gurkha fees three years ago
MoD papers from 2007 reveal questions over relocation
charges paid by veterans

The Government has been accused of doing virtually nothing about Gurkha veterans being charged "by unscrupulous middlemen" for advice on settling in Britain, despite being made aware of the allegations almost three years.

The issue was used, instead, by Defence minister Kevan Jones "in a cynical and opportunist way" to "smear" the actor and activist Joanna Lumley and other campaigners, it has been claimed.

Appearing before the Commons' Home Affairs Committee, Mr Jones – speaking under the protection of parliamentary privilege – criticised Lumley for not speaking out about the exploitation of Gurkhas. "Her deathly silence," he said, "frankly irritates me."

Mr Jones and the Prime Minister subsequently apologised to Lumley and stressed their commitment to upholding fair treatment for the Gurkhas who had risked their lives fighting for Britain. However, the Government has subsequently doubled the cost of visas for dependants of Gurkhas from around £750 to £1,500 – an increase which many of the veterans leading impoverished lives in Nepal simply would not be able to afford.

Their inability to bring over their relatives – on whom they rely for their welfare – has also effectively meant that the elderly veterans have to abandon hope of living in Britain. Gurkha welfare groups claim that this is the real aim of the price increase.

The latest official actions on Gurkha's rights have reignited the controversy which forced the Government into a U-turn last year, amid claims that ministers had deliberately tried to undermine campaigners.

At his appearance before the Home Affairs Committee in March, Mr Jones also ordered an inquiry into the veterans' payments, specifically naming the solicitors Howe & Co – part of Lumley's campaign team – as a firm which should face questions.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has set up a free advice centre in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, and "unscrupulous middlemen" were charging fees which were needless, the minister said.

Mr Jones was later forced to issue an "unreserved apology" to Lumley and the inquiry carried out at the behest of the minister by the Legal Services Commission (LSC) has now cleared Howe & Co. In a letter to the firm, the LSC said it had "found no evidence" of malpractice and "we trust that this satisfactory [sic] concludes the matter."

Gordon Brown was also involved in the controversy, offering his own personal apology to Lumley in a telephone call. The Independent has learnt that this was directly linked to a meeting the Prime Minister had held with three members of the Gurkha campaign – Joanna Lumley, Peter Carroll and Martin Howe, from the solicitors' firm – at Downing Street in May 2009.

During the meeting, the Prime Minister requested and obtained a promise from them not to be vocal on the issue, while in return he would ensure that changes they had demanded to the Bill allowing Gurkhas to settle in the UK would pass into law.

The Independent has also seen documents which show that a senior MoD official, Margaret Gilmour, was aware of allegations that the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemens Organisation (Gaeso) had charged for advice on settlement three years ago.

In an email dated 4 September 2007, she wrote to Howe & Co to say that the matter had been raised with Gaeso whose "response was that they had every right to charge for their services and they saw nothing wrong in taking on such cases if people came to them."

However, in a statement yesterday the MoD said that Gaeso had denied charging fees at a public meeting where Ms Gilmour was present. "In 2007 MoD officials asked Gaeso to respond to a number of accusations. However, these accusations were strongly denied by the organisation during a public meeting and the MoD recognises that Gaeso is a legitimate ex-service organisation," the statement said.

A spokesman added that officials had visited Nepal over a number of years "to use trustworthy sources for information on immigration".

There appears to have been doubts even among government officials whether the inquiry ordered by Mr Jones would lead to a meaningful result. Howe & Co had, in fact, been in touch with the LSC, the body which was eventually to investigate them, after former Gaeso members contacted them to express their disquiet about the fees being charged.

Interesting;
On 2 June last year Davinder Sidhu, a solicitor at the LSC, said in an email: "I am not sure what we can do here. Could you express to Martin [Howe] that we do not want clients paying any organisation for a referral for services that they are or may be entitled to under the Access to Justice Act. Other than that I don't think there is much we can do from here in the UK."
The above was totally ignored and brushed under the carpet

Lumley was unavailable for comment last night, but a source close to her said: "What was particularly upsetting was that Joanna and the others agreed to work behind the scene at the request of the Prime Minister, maintain silence, and then we had Kevan Jones attacking her over that same silence. She will continue to help with the welfare of Gurkha veterans as she has always done."

Kieran O'Rourke, a partner at Howe & Co, said: "One can't help feeling that the actions of Kevan Jones were cynical and opportunist. If Gurkhas are being charged on settlement advice this should be properly investigated and not used as a political gimmick.

"We now have to face another very real problem, the increase in the visa fees, which is having a really damaging impact on the chances of veterans being able to come to this country."

If there was ever a case of "sloping shoulders" this must beat them all


View Article  Former president of Gurkha charity 'expelled'
Investigation into fate of £2m collected
from veterans demanded

Officials claiming to be in charge of the welfare organisation at the centre of the bitter controversy over Gurkha veterans being charged money for advice on settling in Britain are demanding an investigation into what happened to more than £2m collected under the scheme.

The Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation (Gaeso) has split and the faction who say they are now in control say they have expelled former president Padam Bahadur Gurung and his associates, claiming they were responsible for the practice of charging £500 each from 4,000 ex-soldiers who wanted to move to the UK.

Comment from Foxnwolf.......

THE MONEY MUST BE PAID BACK TO THE EX SOLDIERS ASAP

The British Government, which has set up a free advice centre in Nepal for the veterans, has ordered an investigation into the fees being charged and into a firm of British solicitors, Howe & Co, which has been handling Gurkha cases referred to it by Gaeso.

Comment from Foxnwolf.......

FLOGGING A DEAD HORSE ? HOPEFULLY NOT !

A statement from Gaeso Central Convention Organising Committee's Bhakta Sher Rai and Padam Sundar Lumbu, said: "Padam Bahadur Gurung and other culprits do not represent Gaeso and us; they were expelled. We have been opposed to the misleading and cheating of Gurkhas over rights and benefits in the UK. Collecting a fee of £500 from each of the Gurkha applicants for settlement in the UK has never been a Gaeso policy or decision as a non-profit- making Gurkha rights organisation. We are fully aware that Nepali rupees, equivalent to some £2m, collected from around 4,000 Gurkha applicants have never been properly accounted for or reported accurately.

Comment from Foxnwolf.......

THIS MONEY MUST BE FOUND AND RETURNED

"We would like to press our demand to both the Nepali and the UK government authorities for immediate investigations of this scandal so as to return all such money collected to the Gurkha applicants."

Howe & Co acts for its Gurkha clients on a legal aid basis and has consistently denied receiving any money from that paid out by the former soldiers and has shut down its offices in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, until the UK government investigation has been completed. The company has said that it has "absolutely nothing to hide."

Comment from Foxnwolf.......

NOT RECEIVING MONIES IS NOT THE ISSUE, THEY MUST HAVE BEEN AWARE OF THE CONDITIONS RE "FEES" WE WERE
ALL AWARE OF IT. DOES HOWE & CO HAVE ANY MORALS AT ALL ?

Officials from the Justice Department, who are conducting the inquiry, have visited the office of Howe & Co and examined documents. They are also travelling to Nepal where they will meet, among others, rival Gaeso officials. Padma Bahadur Gurung has declared that he remains the lawful president of Gaeso. He said that he does not want to comment on the issue of fees being charged as "an inquiry is going on. We cannot say anything on the issue until it is over".

Comment from Foxnwolf.......

FLOGGING ANOTHER DEAD HORSE ? HOPEFULLY NOT !

However, Krishna Kumar Rai, who says he is the vice-president of Mr Gurung's faction of Gaeso, has told the Kathmandu Post that the money charged covered operating expenses including "staff salaries, electricity and water bills and bills for travel abroad".

Comment from Foxnwolf.......

WHERE ARE THE ACCOUNTS HIDING ?
PERSONAL OR OTHERWISE

The affair has also led to bitter controversy, with Defence minister Kevan Jones being forced to apologise to the actress and Gurkha rights activist Joanna Lumley after criticising her for not speaking out about the alleged exploitation of the former soldiers. Gopal Siwakoti Chintan, who had acted as legal adviser to Gaeso for 10 years, claimed Ms Lumley and her fellow campaigner Peter Carroll from the Gurkha Justice Campaign were warned more than nine months ago, while on a visit to Nepal, that money was changing hands and asked to speak out against the practice.

Comment from Foxnwolf.......

DEFENCE MINISTER KEVAN JONES SHOULD NOT HAVE APOLOGISED

But Mr Rai and Mr Lumbu said Ms Lumley and Mr Carroll could not have known about the fees being charged.

Comment from Foxnwolf.......

US MORTALS WERE AWARE THAT THE FEES WERE

BEING CHARGED FROM THE BEGINNING, HOW COME

NO ONE ELSE WAS ?

While the accusations and recriminations continue, dozens of Gurkha veterans are living in destitution in Britain after arriving here believing that they will receive free housing and be provided with jobs. Many have spent their life savings and raised loans to make the journey.

Comment from Foxnwolf.......

I do hope that no stone is left unturned and every Nepalese Rupee/Dollar/
GBP
is found and returned to the ex soldiers.......
View Article  Lumley ‘was warned that Gurkha charity was charging veterans’

The actress and Gurkha rights campaigner Joanna Lumley was warned about allegations that a Nepalese charity was charging money to former soldiers to seek to settle in Britain and asked to speak out against the practice nine months ago, it has been claimed.

A former lawyer for the Gurkha Army’s Ex-Servicemen’s Organisation (Gaeso) made the claims, saying that he told Ms Lumley and another fellow campaigner Peter Carroll that money was changing hands during their visit to Nepal in July last year.

Gopal Siwakoti Chintan, who has left Gaeso after acting for 10 years as their legal advisor, said that he and other activists also wanted solicitors Howe & Co, who had acted for a number of Gurkhas seeking the right to live in the UK through Gaeso referrals, to condemn the paying of “voluntary” donations to Gaeso.

Mr Chintan told the Nepal Times newspaper: "Basically we tried to persuade Joanna and Peter Carroll that Howe & Co should be asked to stop it. We wanted, through Joanna, Peter Carroll and Howe & Co solicitors, somehow them to be saying in public that no Gurkha should pay any money.

“If one of them had said that during Joanna Lumley's visit then the Gurkhas would not have done it and [Gaeso president] Padam Bahadur Gurung wouldn't have the guts to continue this practice." Mr Chintan suggested that Ms Lumley and the other campaigners did not want to get mixed up in Gaeso's internal affairs.

Nepal Times also published emails from Gurkha veterans to Howe & Co’s UK offices warning that Gaeso was allegedly charging £500 to each applicant. The emails suggest Howe & Co had raised the matter with GAESO in 2007 but been reassured by Gaeso’s insistence that payments were not demanded.

The documents, and Mr Chintan’s claims, will be investigated by the UK Justice Department which is carrying out an inquiry into the matter.

Defence minister Kevan Jones, who asked for the inquiry to be held, last week offered a public “ unreserved apology” to Ms Lumley after accusing her of not speaking up about Gurkhas having their expectations raised. He had said: “Her deathly silence, frankly, irritates me.”

Ms Lumley said at the time: "It has been suggested that I somehow was parachuted in, took the headlines and ran. I feel that is a smear. It has been suggested that I somehow spread falsehoods amongst the Gurkha communities both here and in Nepal about what they could expect. That is a lie and therefore a smear. The people who made those accusations must know them to be untrue."

Howe & Co acted for its Gurkha clients on a legal aid basis.

View Article  Picture of despair: Gurkhas in the UK

"Minister sorry for Lumley Gurkha slur"

Monday 30th March 2010
Gaeso still taking "voluntary contributions" ??

"Joanna Lumley defends her 'silence' over Gurkhas"
Reply on Sat` 27th March 2010
(and misses the point in a few current concerns)
"Click Here"



24 Gurkhas living in desperate poverty

in country they fought for

 (so why won't Joanna Lumley speak out now?)

They pose for a photograph, looking as dignified as their frail bodies will allow, in the centre of the British Army town which they now call home. Forgotten and alone, the old Nepalese soldiers spend their nights in decrepit bedsits and their days searching for something they can afford to eat.

What a sorry plight for the proud Gurkhas who fought for Britain and won the right to settle here last year. No wonder they are growing angry and the name on their lips is Joanna Lumley, the English actress they once hailed as a goddess. They accuse her of staying 'chup' (or 'silent' in Nepalese) as they complain of their conditions in Aldershot, Hampshire.

Begging for help, they blame the Absolutely Fabulous star for a string of broken promises that have left them cold, hungry and penniless in Britain.


Hard up: The men find Britain at odds with the idyllic existence they expected

`She told us to come here and we are stranded in your country with nothing,' said Padam Bahadur Limbu, his 66-year-old face etched with fear and worry. 'We would like to speak to Joanna Lumley and tell her we have been betrayed.'

Padam is caught up in a heartbreaking human tragedy. He is one of thousands of Gurkhas who was promised a wonderful new life in the UK during a campaign spearheaded by Ms Lumley last year. With massive public backing, it forced the Government to give every Nepalese warrior the right to settle in this country.

Within weeks, the veterans began arriving, their heads filled with dreams for the future. The campaigners had told the Gurkhas they would get pensions and state houses and have a comfortable retirement.

Astonishingly in the current financial climate, they were advised they would get jobs paying £1,000 a month.

Yet the reality is so cruelly different. Most of the veterans have never received a penny - nor since caught a glimpse of the people who coerced them into uprooting across the world. Many cannot even afford a cup of tea from the cheapest cafe. All they have left is the clothes they stand up in, bought on the market stalls of Nepal.

They have nowhere to live apart from dingy rooms rented for hundreds of pounds a week. After selling all their possessions and borrowing huge sums at high interest to come here, the veterans are struggling to survive.


All smiles: Joanna Lumley was the face of the Gurkhas' fight, but has been strangely silent since concerns started being voiced

Last week, Defence Minister Kevan Jones ordered an inquiry into the sad scandal amid allegations of ruthless exploitation of the ageing Gurkhas, and today he plans to visit Aldershot to see their plight for himself.

Earlier, in a private letter to Whitehall colleagues, he warned that 'unscrupulous elements' in Nepal have created 'unrealistic expectations' about British life and what services might be offered to them here.

The inquiry will centre on the unconventional £500-a-head payments charged by their own veterans' charity in Nepal for advice on moving to Britain. It will also examine why more than £1million in Legal Aid fees has been paid by British taxpayers to a London firm of human rights' lawyers for assisting Gurkhas to fill in visa application forms at Gaeso offices before they travelled from Nepal.

Meanwhile, Joanna Lumley, who campaigned alongside both officials of the charity the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation (Gaeso) and partners of the law firm Howe and Co of Ealing, is under mounting pressure over her curious reluctance to speak out about the veterans' plight, first exposed during an investigation by the Mail last month.

Ms Lumley is closely linked to Howe and Co. She approached the law firm to offer her help when the campaign to bring the Gurkhas here was flagging. Within weeks she was being pictured with their senior partners at events to raise the profile of the Gurkha Justice Campaign.

Even now, calls by this newspaper to ask for her views elicit a response from the law firm but a steadfast refusal from her to speak out.

The firm's Martin Howe has told the Mail that he has never taken a penny from any Gurkha or from Gaeso.

However, he confirmed his firm has received huge amounts of Legal Aid for helping with their UK visa applications.

Kevan Jones last week told the Commons he was 'irritated' by the 'deafening silence' from the actress. It was all so different last summer, when Ms Lumley stood outside Parliament, celebrating the Gurkhas' victory.


No money: 67 year-old Nepalese farmer and ex-British army Gurkha Uman Singh Gurung in his mouldy Aldershot bedsit

She was later taken on a 'thank-you' tour of Nepal by Gaeso to mark the highly successful campaign. How the waiting Gurkhas cheered their heroine when they saw her. In the capital, Kathmandu, and the second city, Pokhara, she stepped off her plane garlanded in the traditional marigold necklace of the Himalayan kingdom to greet the old soldiers who waved banners calling her their goddess and daughter of their country.

There, watching her with delight was Padam and his fellow Gurkha Guru Bahadur Thapa, who both came to Britain last November.There's no doubt that Ms Lumley's campaign was well-intentioned.

Alas, the fear is that her victory has been exploited by unscrupulous middlemen who have given Gurkhas an unrealistic expectation of what life in Britain would be like. And now many of those old warriors who have paid thousands of pounds to move here are bitter and disillusioned.

The fear is that Lumley's victory has been exploited by unscrupulous middlemen who have given Gurkhas an unrealistic expectation of what life in Britain would be like. And now many of those old warriors who have paid thousands of pounds to move here are bitter and disillusioned

As Mr Thapa, 66, told me sadly: 'I sold my house, land, everything because of what the campaigners told me. But after just a few months here, I have none of the money left.

'I have rented a room with a shower with another Gurkha for £580 a month from the local estate agent. I do not know how I will pay the rent next month unless I get some pension money from your Government.

'I have not eaten today because I cannot afford food. At the Nepalese supermarket in Aldershot they are giving Gurkhas credit for a little fruit and bread. We were not told it would be like this. We feel we have been duped by Joanna Lumley and her campaigners. We are deeply disappointed. Where is our Joanna now?'

He is among 400 Gurkhas who have headed to the towns surrounding Aldershot and parts of London. Since leaving the British Army, the majority have eked out a meagre living as peasant farmers earning 35p a day by keeping a cow or a few goats and ploughing a small tract of land in Nepal's mountainous villages.

Yet they show an amazing loyalty to Britain. Each Gurkha carries a plastic bag containing a small red booklet called a Lal Kitab. It is the record of his military career and proof that he was once a soldier in the British Army. Few of them can even read the English words inside, for they had never stepped foot in Britain, and half of the Gurkhas are illiterate.

'This shows I once fought for your Queen Elizabeth II,' one 67-year-old told me solemnly yesterday through an interpreter. His booklet states that he served for six years from 1968 with exemplary conduct, leaving as a 24-year-old in 1974 when Army numbers were cut.

He was discharged from Hong Kong, the Brigade of Gurkhas' base until the hand-over of the island by Britain to China in 1997, when it moved to Aldershot and later Yorkshire.

It was in recognition of such service that the Mail and huge numbers of people supported Joanna Lumley and the campaign. For 200 years, the Gurkhas have fought valiantly for Britain, losing 50,000 men in the last century alone during two world wars and numerous skirmishes in the Far East. People believed it would repay a debt of honour if they were welcomed into this country if that was their wish.


Concerned: Defence minister Kevan Jones has claimed some of the advice being given to Gurkha veterans hoping to settle in the UK was misleading

The campaign had a particular poignancy for Miss Lumley. Her father, Major James Rutherford Lumley, was an officer in the 6th Gurkha Rifles. Serving in Burma during World War II, his life was saved by fellow Gurkhas, including one who received the Victoria Cross for his valour.

With charm and determination, she forced Gordon Brown's Government into a dramatic turnabout-and 36,000 of the old men, their wives and dependants are expected eventually to settle here. More than 4,000 have applied for UK visas since the Lumley campaign and thousands have already arrived. But it is a journey that too often ends tragically.

Dr Hugh Milroy, the head of Veterans' Aid - a London-based charity helping former servicemen - explained to the Mail: 'We see about one new Gurkha a week struggling to survive in this country.

The most extreme case involved a family man who arrived with borrowed money but no English. His mental and physical health deteriorated rapidly. After several months he ended up on the streets.

This man was totally unequipped to deal with life in modern Britain, and he was so badly traumatised by his experiences here that he eventually asked to be flown back to Nepal.

'We gave him new clothes for his flight. All he left behind were two flea-ridden blankets and a jacket with pockets full of cigarette ends picked up from the streets.

'Staff at Veterans' Aid are used to dealing with the street homeless. But many were shocked and moved to tears by his plight. He was a truly broken human being.

'It is not our job to assign blame, but it was clear from the start that this man didn't have the resources or skills to live in Britain, where life is complex and expensive.'

What a different story is being woven in Nepal. I have interviewed dozens of the Gurkha veterans there and in Britain. The majority insisted that they had received promises from the Gurkha's veterans association Gaeso and by the English lawyers at Howe & Co about getting work, houses, and benefits in the UK - yet hardly any have received a penny.

The local council in the Aldershot area, Rushmoor, agrees it is struggling to cope with language barriers and numbers. Often the council has been able to offer only a bus pass.

Typical is Bhoj Poudel, 63, who arrived in Britain last November. He says: 'We were told in the Gaeso offices in Nepal to come to Aldershot and we could claim a pension here. We were told we would find work. We were excited.

'The Government would give us a home to live in. Our families? We planned to bring them soon, too. But nothing has gone right for us.'

In a nearby coffee bar, I found Kul Bahadur Ale, who is in much the same state. He is 63 and is blinded in one eye from a scything accident on his small farm. The idea of him ever finding work is ludicrous.

He has left a wife, son and daughter behind in Baglung, Nepal. He borrowed huge sums to come here, money that he admits he will never be able to repay. 'I walked two-and-a-half days to get to the bus stop to catch a bus to Pokhara where there is an office of Gaeso. There, they told me to pay 60,000 rupees (£500) for 'advice and paperwork'. Once I had given them the cash, I was sent to the next office to see an English-speaking solicitor. He helped me fill in the visa settlement forms.

'So many Gurkhas in Nepal believe they have to go through this process. They are told by Gaeso they will not get a UK visa unless they do.

'We all believed we would have good life in your country, with social benefits and work. I heard it from the Gaeso officials and the lawyer, and so have all my friends.'

Sitting beside him was his cousin Padam Pun, 62. He comes from the same village as Mr Ale, and also arrived four months ago.

'I have a wife and three children in Nepal,' he says sadly. 'I borrowed money from friends to pay the Gaeso fee, the UK visa cost of £480 and the single air ticket of £350, too. I have not received any social benefits and I rent a room for so much money.'

Then he adds, with a shake of his gnarled head: 'I miss my family so much. I don't know whether I will ever see them again.

'I do not have the money to go back or to bring them over here. We may be apart for ever.'

Those words are enough to chill the heart of any caring person. No wonder that the frail Gurkhas are growing angry with Joanna Lumley and her continuing, baffling, silence. Now it remains to be seen who will actually help the old soldiers who once helped Britain.

Original Story "Click Here"

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View Article  Gurkhas getting robbed for £500 each by "GAESO"

Gurkhas hoping to move to Britain are being tricked out of their savings by 'unscrupulous' groups claiming they can help them settle here, MPs have been told.

The veterans are being charged £500 cash for advice on applying for a UK visa and misled into thinking they will be entitled to housing and benefits.

It has meant many have ended up here facing poverty, homelessness and unemployment having spent their savings or borrowed money for flights and visas.

Gurkhas hoping to move to Britain are being tricked out of their savings by 'unscrupulous' groups claiming they can help them settle here, MPs have been told.


Many Gurkhas have been given 'misleading' information about the housingand benefits they would be entitled to if they moved to Britain

The veterans are being charged £500 cash for advice on applying for a UK visa and misled into thinking they will be entitled to housing and benefits.

It has meant many have ended up here facing poverty, homelessness and unemployment having spent their savings or borrowed money for flights and visas.

The plight of the veterans was highlighted by a recent Mail investigation carried out by Sue Reid.

She found elderly soldiers had sold up and headed to Britain unaware of the difficulties that faced them whether it be their lack of English or money to set up home.

'They come with no idea of the expense of living in a country where the basic cost of setting up a rented home is £2,000,' said Annabelle Fuller of the Army Benevolent Fund.

'They are begging us for help. The Ministry of Defence predicted this would happen, but the media focus of the campaign was on the Gurkhas' rights to settle.'

The Mail investigation found one former rifleman sold his home, farmland and livestock to raise the money to get to Britain.

But Unman Singh Gurung, nudging 70, with barely any English found himself stranded in a mildewed room in Aldershot, Hampshire, with little prospect of getting a job and no money to fly home.

At the same time his wife, son, and daughter face an equally uncertain future. They have no money to fly to Britain or to pay for the three UK visas they need to settle here.

Furthermore their home and business are gone.

Yesterday's meeting of the Home Affairs Select Committee was also told that the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen's Organisation in Nepal was charging veterans £500 for needless advice.

Defence Minister Kevan Jones told the committee it was 'extremely disappointing that certain organisations who purported to be on the side of the Gurkhas now appear to be exploiting them'.

Last month's Mail investigation revealed the extent of the scandal. Thousands of Gurkhas who want to settle in Britain have made the 'voluntary' £500 donation to GAESO.

They are then passed onto solicitors working for UK-based firm Howe & Co who advise them on their applications before claiming legal aid for their services, Mr Jones told the committee.

Mr Jones revealed that Justice Minister Lord Bach had launched a probe into the activities of lawyers assisting veterans.

Last night Kieran O'Rourke, a partner with Howe and Co, strongly denied his firm had behaved improperly. He said the company had written to GAESO making clear that the veterans should not be required to pay.

It had also informed the Legal Services Commission, said Mr O'Roarke.

He added: 'We provide our services free of charge to the Gurkhas and we don't take back-handers. We are whiter than white on this issue.'

Mr Jones said it was vital to 'get the message across' that veterans could get free advice from a Ministry of Defence resettlement office in Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

The Government was forced into an embarrassing U-turn last year by giving all Gurkhas who had served in the British Army for more than four years the right to live here.

Ministers originally said only those discharged after 1997 could apply.

Home Affairs Select Committee chairman Keith Vaz, a former Labour minister, said he was 'very concerned' by the revelations and Labour MP Martin Salter, who fought for veterans resettlement rights, said they were being 'conned'.

Since the Government caved in to the campaign, some 4,100 visas have been issued to Gurkhas.

Last month the Mail told how one ex-rifleman Unman Singh Gurung, who was nearly 70, sold his farm in Nepal and took out an unaffordable loan to move to England only to end up penniless in a mildewed attic room above an empty shop in Aldershot, Hampshire.

Mr Jones also said he was 'disappointed and irritated' by actress Joanna Lumley, who spearheaded the campaign to win thousands of Nepalese veterans and their families the right to settle in the UK.

Despite evidence of 'exploitation' of the veterans she had refused to criticise it, he said



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DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL APPLICATION FORM
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View Article  Gurkha veterans lose pensions test case battle with MoD

Retired Gurkhas have lost a High Court test case battle with the Ministry of Defence over pension rights.

The British Gurkha Welfare Society was seeking a judicial review against a decision to limit the pensions paid to those who left the service before 1997.

The veterans can get a third of the monthly amount of UK-based soldiers.

The court agreed it was lawful to apply pension improvements only to those in the Gurkhas when the regiment moved to Britain from Hong Kong.

An MoD spokesperson welcomed the ruling, and said: "We have always sought to treat ex-Gurkhas fairly.

"The Gurkhas are amongst the best and the bravest and we will continue to honour and reward their commitment and sacrifice under our existing arrangements."

The changes to pension rules in 2007 gave serving Gurkha soldiers equal pension rights with their UK counterparts.

But the British Gurkha Welfare Society said about 25,000 men who retired before 1 July 1997 were denied the opportunity to transfer into UK armed forces pension schemes.

High regard

After a high profile campaign last year headed by the actress Joanna Lumley, all retired Gurkhas now have the right to settle in the UK.

Lawyers claimed the failure to give them equal pension rights amounted to unlawful discrimination on grounds of nationality and age and was in breach of the Human Rights Act and EU discrimination laws.

Their pension scheme paid lower benefits based on the cost of living in Nepal, the homeland to which they traditionally retired.

Two soldiers named as lead claimants in the legal challenge, Corporal Surbarna Adhikari, from Reading, and Major Tikendra Dewan, from Farnborough, had been claiming damages against the MoD for alleged unequal treatment.

Mr Adhikari, who served 15 years before his discharge in February 1997, is ineligible to transfer any pensionable years to the armed forces schemes.

Mr Dewan, who served almost 31 years before being discharged in July 2002, is able to transfer part of his pension, but his lawyers say the 26 of those years that fell before 1997 will earn him about a third of what a UK soldier receives.

The MoD, however, maintains that Gurkha pensions can be paid over a longer period and amount to the same final level as the UK schemes.

Mr Justice Burnett spoke of the "high regard" the British people had for the Gurkhas.

But he ruled the MoD had not acted unlawfully and rejected all the grounds of the challenge. He said the Gurkhas had not established that the MoD failed to comply with obligations, and ordered them to pay its legal costs.

'More to do'

The British Gurkha Welfare Society said it would be seeking leave to appeal against the decision.

The society's general secretary, Chhatra Rai, suggested improved pensions rights could save the government money as Gurkhas would be less inclined to move to the UK and there would be less pressure on the welfare system.

He added: "Notwithstanding the savings that could be made by increasing the future monthly pension payments for Gurkhas, this is above all a moral issue as the majority of Gurkha veterans in this group are now becoming increasingly old and fragile."

Labour MP George Howarth, who sponsored a parliamentary motion supporting an improved Gurkha pension, said: "The fact that this small but significant group of veterans are still discriminated against shows that there is still more to do to ensure that the Gurkhas are treated properly and fairly."

View Article  Jubilant Joanna Lumley Wins Govt v Gurkhas Battle

Gurkha champion Joanna Lumley has proclaimed "the Gurkhas are coming home" after the Government finally relented on settlement rights.


Gurkha campaigner Joanna Lumley celebrates with former Gurkha soldiers

The actress hailed the "brave" decision by Gordon Brown after he opened the door to thousands of retired soldiers.Campaigners reacted with jubilation when Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced all Gurkha veterans with four years' service would be allowed to move to the UK.

Ms Lumley, whose later father was an officer in the Gurkha regiment, led the cheer of "Ayo Gurkhali" - "the Gurkhas are coming".Surrounding by the Nepalese warriors and choking back tears she said: "A great injustice has been righted. The Gurkhas are coming home."

"I would like to pay tribute to Gordon Brown the Prime Minister, a brave man who has made today a brave decision on behalf of the bravest of the brave."This is a fantastic day for my brothers and sisters.""It is so thrilling to have overcome something which has gone on for so long."We knew it would be something good - but this is the best.

I am delighted that we have now be able to agree, across government, across the house, and with the Gurkha representatives, all of those who have served us so well so highly deserve all of this," she said.

The move came after a sustained campaign by the Gurkhas and their champion, Ms Lumley.Five years ago, Gurkhas who served at least four years and retired after 1997 were granted the right to live in the UK.

This did not apply to those who had left the service before 1997.Since then, the Nepalese soldiers have been campaigning for all veterans to get citizenship rights.



Joanna Lumley's father James

Changing the policy gives 36,000 veterans and their families permission to settle in the UK but the take-up is expected to be significantly lower.The cost is estimated to be be between £300m and £1.4bn.

The Home Affairs committee met campaigners earlier this week and then wrote to Mr Brown asking for all Gurkhas to be given the right to citizenship.Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg, whose Commons motion led directly to the u-turn, said: "I am absolutely thrilled that the Gurkhas have finally been given justice.

"Gordon Brown has finally woken up to the principle that people across Britain understand instinctively: if someone is prepared to die for this country, they must be allowed to live in it.

"Tragically this decision will come too late for many of those brave Gurkhas who have been waiting so long to see justice done."


Well done Joanna.......PMPT & Semper Fi

View Article  Gurkha Justice Update from Joanna Lumley
At midday today, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith made the announcement to the House of Commons that the Gurkha Justice Campaign have been fighting for for years. All ex-Gurkhas who have served more than 4 years in the British Army will have the right to settle in the UK if they wish.

After such a long fight, with huge ups and downs, this is a superb announcement.

We simply would not have won this fight without the massive, overwhelming support of all those who have supported our campaign. To the hundreds of thousands of people who have signed Gurkha Justice petitions, lobbied their MP, campaigned, attended rallies and marches - thank you so much to you all. This is your victory. It would not have happened without you.

The Government has now responded to that campaign after court cases, votes in Parliament, a huge media campaign and, most importantly, massive public support. I am delighted, and humbled, at what has been achieved by our remarkable team.

The whole campaign has been based on the belief that those who have fought and been prepared to die for our country should have the the right to live in our country. We owe them a debt of honour - a debt that will now be paid.

With warmest good wishes,

Joanna
www.gurkhajustice.org.uk
View Article  I trust Brown over Gurkhas - Lumley

Gordon Brown will unveil a new policy on Gurkha residence rights by the end of the month, campaigning actress Joanna Lumley has declared after talks with the Prime Minister.


She said: "The meeting was extremely positive. He is wholly supportive of the Gurkha cause. He is going to come up with a new solution by the end of this month.

"I trust him. I rely on him. And I know that he has now taken this matter into his own hands and so today is a very good day."

Ms Lumley said she accepted the PM would have to deal with the issue "slowly and deliberately" but added his commitment to bring forward the processing of all outstanding applications from July to May had already shown "a huge intent and purpose".

She said: "He promised he would do all he can. I do trust the Prime Minister. I know him very slightly personally and I find him to be a man of integrity.

"I think this is now in his hands. It has been in many people's hands. It has been bandied around from the Ministry of Defence to the Home Office and all kinds of different people have been dealing with it.

"Now, I feel we have got the head man, the man at the top, the leader of our entire nation and I feel absolutely confident he is going to do the right think for the Gurkhas.

"I hope we can all look at this with a steady head and realise that this is utterly achievable, utterly attainable."

"It was a friendly meeting, it was a constructive meeting," said Mr Brown's spokesman.

"The Prime Minister listened to Miss Lumley's concerns and proposals and made clear his admiration and gratitude for the Gurkhas' contribution over the years."

View Article  Gurkhas' Treatment 'Disgraceful'.

"Our Iron Lady"


BARONESS Thatcher last night branded the Government’s treatment of brave Gurkhas as “disgraceful”.

The Iron Lady — who sent Gurkhas into battle in the Falklands War — rarely speaks out in public since quitting politics but wanted to voice her sense of outrage.

Julian Seymour, former head of the Thatcher Foundation, told The Sun she thought new rules were a disgrace. He added: “She told me, ‘I think the treatment of the Gurkhas by the Government is outrageous and I am very distressed by it’.”

Lady Thatcher’s comments will be a huge embarrassment to the Government and provide a boost to Gurkha campaigners like Victoria Cross winner Lachhiman Gurung, 93.

As PM, she told MPs in 1981: “The Gurkha battalion is an excellent part of our defence forces”. And in 1983 she said: “I believe that the Gurkhas command universal admiration.”


Campaigners say the new rules mean as few as 100 of the Nepalese ex-servicemen would gain the right to settle in Britain. But under-fire Immigration Minister Phil Woolas has claimed as many as 4,300 would be given permission to stay. The Sun yesterday launched a crusade to overturn the ruling so Britain can honour the thousands of Gurkhas who risked their lives for our country.

By last night more than 5,000 people had signed our online petition.


The former PM backed The Sun’s campaign for justice. She told aides she was “very distressed” after ministers brought in new rules shutting thousands of Gurkhas out of Britain.

View Article  Gurkha Justice Campaign update from Joanna Lumley
Thank you so much for your support of the Gurkha Justice campaign. We are overwhelmed by the support the campaign is receiving.

As you may know, on Friday, the Government badly let down the Gurkhas. The new rules they have announced will exclude the huge majority of ex-Gurkhas who retired before 1997 from claiming citizenship in this country. They've given five bullet points that virtually cannot be met by the ordinary Gurkha soldier.

It is so obvious that the treatment of the Gurkhas has been a great injustice. To treat them like this is despicable.

The strong reaction by the public and press should show the Government that they simply cannot get away with this outrage.

I'm ashamed of our adminstration. We will be challenging this decision in the courts and in Parliament. We will not stop now.

This is not a party political campaign: it's simply one for justice. I am so grateful though for immediate support from MPs from all Parties, including amongst others Conservative leader David Cameron and Lib Dem Leader Nick Clegg.

Nick Clegg has agreed to put a vote to Parliament this Wednesday calling for a fair deal for Gurkhas. This vote on its own won't change the Government's ruling, but would be an overwhelming signal to the Government that they need to think again.

We need all MPs that support the Gurkha justice cause to turn up and vote for a proper deal for Gurkhas on Wednesday. Can I ask that you take a couple of minutes right now to ask your MP to do so?

You can send a message to your MP directly at www.theyworkforyou.com - please ask them to support the Gurkha Justice motion on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, there will also be a Gurkha Justice rally and protest against the Government's decision, starting at noon in Old Palace Yard, Westminster. Many MPs have already committed to support the vote and join me and others at the rally. I know it's awfully short notice, but if you can, please do come along as well to add your support.

If you can pass on this message to others as well that would be fabulous - and if they sign up to www.gurkhajustice.org.uk we can keep in touch with them directly in future.

Lastly, again, thank you so much for your support. It means so much to us. I spoke today to Lt Madan Kumar Gurung, who has been at the forefront of the campaign since it began. He said to me that he has no fear for the Gurkhas any more, as he knows the loving hearts of the British people will not let them down. With your support we won't.

With warmest good wishes,

Joanna
www.gurkhajustice.org.uk

View Article  Our Loyal Friends.......The GURKHAS

Dear  Mr  Moss, (Con` MP)

Many months ago I signed a petition put forward by the Daily Express and  Ms Joanna  Lumley requesting fair treatment for GURKHAS.

Given the details now being released following the decision made by the Home Secretary to lay down  “grossly unfair” condition to allow Gurkhas to settle in the UK, I feel both saddened and ashamed to call myself British and now have mixed feelings at having once worn the Queens Uniform myself.   

The conduct of “THIS”  Government and the way in which they have handled this matter is both disgraceful and treacherous.

Considering the numbers of “immigrants”  both legal and illegal which this country is  “soaking up”, and coupled with the handouts and state benefits given to the said immigrants, my question would be :-  Is it really such a  “big deal”  to allow these brave, dedicated and  “Loyal” servants of the Queen to settle here if they so choose to do so….    IS IT REALLY  such a problem..??     Hardly… given the mess that we are in already…!!

“IF”… I were to be given the power to make a decision on such matters….   I would lay down just one rule:-  They must wear the Queens Uniform and serve with honour for a minimum of 5 years.     That’s it … !!   after that….   Please be invited to become a British citizen and live with us  (and your family) if you so desire.

In conjunction with this rule I would them apply exactly the same conditions to  “ALL” immigrants being:-

Report to one of our recruiting offices  (abroad somewhere) … sign up….

Put on the Queens uniform,  go and fight in a war  (somewhere) as may be ordered by  HM Government….

Put your life on the line…..  and then … “IF”  you survive….   “welcome” to the UK….. failing that …..    Go Away..!!

Would if be unfair or racist to demand that  “ALL”  immigrants be accorded the SAME rigid condition of entry to the UK as now being demanded of our very best friends ( for 200 years plus!!) the  GURKHAS….

Why Oh Why ….we need to make this appeal  “at all”  beats the hell out of me…..  any decent person in Government  ( which obviously there are  NONE !!) would see that the action and conditions as now being laid down are dishonourable and a disgrace to say the very least.

As for  any knock on effects with other groups who would try to follow  “suit”..??  well…. If they have served our Country as well as the Gurkhas have..??  then OK…. welcome them in as well…..   as … you tell me  “exactly”  what the immigrants from Iraq  and  Afghanistan have done to deserve to be in the UK as compared with the service of the Gurkhas…..     

Nothing…..nothing at all …!!   And yet…. Mr  Phil  Wollas does not seem to want to  clamp down on them with the same venom, vigour and spitefulness …!!

How dare the Home Secretary treat the Gurkhas in such an insulting way… how dare she ..!!  and whilst all the time turning a “Nelson Eye” to the criminals and riff-raff  flooding into our land.

Enough said…..   my feelings are quite clear.

Yours   sincerely

David   Proctor.    (Ex- RE)
View Article  Gurkha Justice Campaign


Gurkhas are fighting for Justice. They want the same terms and conditions as their UK and Commonwealth counterparts. Britain has had no greater friends than the Gurkhas. They 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.

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