hughesyardie - Sat 17 Mar 2012 21:19 GMT
Taff Minton - Tue 28 Feb 2012 23:27 GMT
hughesyardie - Mon 27 Feb 2012 17:52 GMT
june - Wed 08 Feb 2012 08:22 GMT
jenna55us - Mon 06 Feb 2012 00:51 GMT
vanessa - Mon 30 Jan 2012 20:57 GMT
shef64 - Mon 23 Jan 2012 17:42 GMT
Tenerife Marine - Sat 21 Jan 2012 11:00 GMT
jim - Thu 29 Dec 2011 18:25 GMT
FoxnWolf - Thu 29 Dec 2011 00:18 GMT
Friday, September 24
Save the Gurkha Regiment Campaign
on Fri 24 Sep 2010 10:16 BST
Save the Gurkha Regiment CampaignThe 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
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
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.
- Petition Website: www.savethegurkhas.co.uk to lodge support on-line
- Join the Facebook Group called: Campaign to Save the Brigade of Gurkhas from being axed and also -Follow the profile- Peter D Carroll
- Follow the Campaign on Twitter. The Twitter profile is called: savethegurkhas
- Visit YouTube videos of Peter Carroll being Interviewed by BBC and SKY: http://www.youtube.com/user/GurkhasCampaign
- LinkedIn Group: http://www.linkedin.com/groups?mostPopular=&gid=3376053 -Save the Gurkha Regiment Campaign-
- Email Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, April 15
Cherie Blair accused of 'profiting from plight of Gurkha veterans'
on Thu 15 Apr 2010 09:20 BST
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
'Siwakoti orchestrated an arrangement with Phil Shiner and Cherie
Booth for the case, even though it was supposed to be funded under
'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
This is turning out to be a bigger nest of Vipers than originally thought
Friday, April 9
Government had concerns over Gurkha fees three years ago
on Fri 09 Apr 2010 15:12 BST
MoD papers from 2007 reveal questions over relocation
charges paid by
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.
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.
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
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
A spokesman added that
officials had visited Nepal over a number of years "to use trustworthy
sources for information on immigration".
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
Wednesday, April 7
Former president of Gurkha charity 'expelled'
on Wed 07 Apr 2010 13:36 BST
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.
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
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
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
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
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".
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".
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.
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
I do hope that no stone is left unturned and every Nepalese Rupee/Dollar/
is found and returned to the ex soldiers.......
Monday, April 5
Lumley ‘was warned that Gurkha charity was charging veterans’
on Mon 05 Apr 2010 20:31 BST
The actress and Gurkha rights campaigner Joanna Lumley was warned about
allegations that a Nepalese charity was charging money to former
seek to settle in Britain and asked to speak out against the practice
months ago, it has been claimed.
A former lawyer for the Gurkha Army’s Ex-Servicemen’s Organisation
made the claims, saying that he told Ms Lumley and another fellow
Peter Carroll that money was changing hands during their visit to
July last year.
Gopal Siwakoti Chintan, who has left Gaeso after acting for 10 years as
legal advisor, said that he and other activists also wanted solicitors
& 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”
Mr Chintan told the Nepal Times newspaper: "Basically we tried to
Joanna and Peter Carroll that Howe & Co should be asked to stop
wanted, through Joanna, Peter Carroll and Howe & Co solicitors,
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
would not have done it and [Gaeso president] Padam Bahadur Gurung
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
Nepal Times also published emails from Gurkha veterans to Howe &
offices warning that Gaeso was allegedly charging £500 to each
The emails suggest Howe & Co had raised the matter with GAESO in
been reassured by Gaeso’s insistence that payments were not demanded.
The documents, and Mr Chintan’s claims, will be investigated by the UK
Department which is carrying out an inquiry into the matter.
Defence minister Kevan Jones, who asked for the inquiry to be held, last
offered a public “ unreserved apology” to Ms Lumley after accusing her
not speaking up about Gurkhas having their expectations raised. He had
“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
been suggested that I somehow spread falsehoods amongst the Gurkha
communities both here and in Nepal about what they could expect. That
lie and therefore a smear. The people who made those accusations must
them to be untrue."
Howe & Co acted for its Gurkha clients on a legal aid basis.
Tuesday, March 30
Picture of despair: Gurkhas in the UK
on Tue 30 Mar 2010 13:38 BST
Monday 30th March 2010
Gaeso still taking "voluntary contributions" ??
"Joanna Lumley defends her
'silence' over Gurkhas"
Reply on Sat` 27th March 2010
misses the point in a few current concerns)
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,
Begging for help, they blame the Absolutely Fabulous star for a
string of broken promises that have left them cold, hungry and penniless
Hard up: The men find Britain at odds with the idyllic existence they
`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
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
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
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
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
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
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
'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.
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
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
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
'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
'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.
Friday, March 12
Gurkhas getting robbed for £500 each by "GAESO"
on Fri 12 Mar 2010 16:37 GMT
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
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
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
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'.
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.
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.'
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.
originally said only those discharged after 1997 could apply.
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
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
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
The information below is supplied directly by Foxnwolf and LocknLoad
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Veterans can get FREE ADVICE from a Ministry of Defence resettlement
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FOR IMPORTANT INFORMATION ON HOW TO OBTAIN A VISA "CLICK
DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL APPLICATION FORM "CLICK HERE"
THE OFFICIAL COMPLETED APPLICATION FORM IS TO BE TAKEN DIRECTLY TO THE
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Telephone +997 1 553 3519 or +977 1 553 3521 ext 327 or 329
Fax +977 1 554 7561
Monday, January 18
Gurkha veterans lose pensions test case battle with MoD
on Mon 18 Jan 2010 10:46 GMT
Retired Gurkhas have lost a High Court test case battle with the Ministry of Defence over pension rights.
British Gurkha Welfare Society was seeking a judicial review against a
decision to limit the pensions paid to those who left the service
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.
Gurkhas are amongst the best and the bravest and we will continue to
honour and reward their commitment and sacrifice under our existing
The changes to pension rules in 2007 gave serving Gurkha soldiers equal pension rights with their UK counterparts.
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 profile campaign last year headed by the actress Joanna Lumley,
all retired Gurkhas now have the right to settle in the UK.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
'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
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."
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."
Thursday, May 21
Jubilant Joanna Lumley Wins Govt v Gurkhas Battle
on Thu 21 May 2009 15:28 BST
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.
Gurkha Justice Update from Joanna Lumley
on Thu 21 May 2009 01:11 BST
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,
Wednesday, May 6
I trust Brown over Gurkhas - Lumley
on Wed 06 May 2009 10:11 BST
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
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."
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".
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.
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.
Prime Minister listened to Miss Lumley's concerns and proposals and
made clear his admiration and gratitude for the Gurkhas' contribution
over the years."
Wednesday, April 29
Gurkhas' Treatment 'Disgraceful'.
on Wed 29 Apr 2009 13:40 BST
"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
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
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
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
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.
Tuesday, April 28
Gurkha Justice Campaign update from Joanna Lumley
on Tue 28 Apr 2009 08:44 BST
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,
Sunday, April 26
Our Loyal Friends.......The GURKHAS
on Sun 26 Apr 2009 10:05 BST
Moss, (Con` MP)
Many months ago I signed a
petition put forward by the Daily Express and Ms Joanna
Lumley requesting fair treatment for
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
“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
In conjunction with this
rule I would them apply exactly the same conditions to “ALL”
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
done to deserve to be in the UK as compared with
the service of the
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
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.
my feelings are quite clear.
Proctor. (Ex- RE)
Thursday, March 26
Gurkha Justice Campaign
on Thu 26 Mar 2009 12:45 GMT