Friday, April 24, 2009

Home Office treatment of Gurkhas shames us alll

The UK Border Agency has this morning announced new criteria which it will use to consider applications from former members of the Brigade of Gurkhas to settle in the United Kingdom.

In September 2008, the High Court ruled that immigration rules denying Gurkhas who retired before 1997 - about 36,000 - an automatic right to stay in the UK were unlawful. As a consequence, the Home Office were made to review their criteria.

Following the announcement from the Home Office's Border Agency this morning, Gurkha Justice Campaigners have reacted with anger to the new rules on the eligibility of Gurkha veterans to live in the UK.

The Home Office announcement this morning said that new rules would allow about 4,300 more to settle, but the Gurkha Justice Campaign said it would be just 100.

Actress Joanna Lumley, a campaigner for the Gurkhas, said the announcement made her "ashamed of our administration". Other members of Gurkha Justice called the announcement a betrayal".

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas denied he had betrayed the Gurkhas:

This improves the situation.

It has never been the case that all Gurkhas pre-1997 were to be allowed to stay in the country. With their dependents you could be looking at 100,000 people.

It's simply not true that we have betrayed the Gurkhas. When people read the guidelines they will see the sense of them."

However, Peter Carroll, from the Gurkha Justice Campaign, said the fight to allow the Gurkhas to stay in this country would continue with renewed vigour, and added:

"The one group of people that has never let this country down has been let down today in a manner which is truly appalling."

David Enwright, a solicitor representing the Gurkhas, said:

"This government, Mr Woolas, should hang their head in shame so low that their forehead should touch their boots.

This is a disgrace and a betrayal of our armed forces and our veterans."

I wholeheartedly agree. The treatment these loyal and dignified Gurkhas are receiving from this government is shameful!

To my mind... ALL Gurkhas that have served in the British Army... should, as an automatic right be allowed to live in the United Kingdom if they wish to do so, in the same way as other people from the Commonwealth who serve in the British Armed Forces are allowed to do!

When one considers the hundreds of thousands of highly dubious people that the Home Office allows to remain in the UK, for one idiotic reason or other, it makes one's blood boil to see how the Gurkhas, a hugely more deserving people by anyone's yardstick, are having ridiculous and restrictive obstacles continually placed in their way.

This is another nail in this Government's coffin! They continue to cause the country embarassment and their petty decisions shame us all... worst of all, they are out of step with the wishes of the country at large! The vast majority of people in the UK would have absolutely no problem in accepting ALL Gurkhas who have served, and their families if necessary, to live and work in the UK... without restriction!

You can support the Gurkha Justice Campaign here.