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Joanna Lumley leads Gurkhas back to Court to force Government action

March 16, 2009 8:41 AM
Peter Carroll, Joanna Lumley, Dhan Gurung and Shepway and Canterbury Gurkha rights campaigners.

Peter Carroll, Joanna Lumley, Dhan Gurung and Shepway and Canterbury Gurkha rights campaigners outside the Courts of Justice in September 2008, when a judge ruled the Government's position was 'unlawful'.

At 9.30 on Tuesday 17th March Joanna Lumley will lead the Gurkhas back to the High Court to force the Government to honour the judgement made against them in the High Court on 30th September last year. That judgement said that the current Government policy of excluding Gurkhas who retired from the British Army before 1997 from the right to settle in the UK was 'unlawful'.

The Judge gave the Government 3 months to announce a new policy and to review all the cases of Gurkhas in the immigration system. However, the Government has delayed and delayed and now Ms Lumley and the legal team will be back in court to ask for an injunction to force the Government to act.

When the judgement was announced, Joanna Lumley vowed to lead the campaign to make the Government see that the British people want all retired Gurkhas to have the right to settle in the UK irrespective of the date that they retired. Currently, only Gurkhas who retired after July 1997 have the right to settle in the UK. Gurkhas who retired before July 1997 are not generally allowed to stay in the UK even if they have won decorations for valour.

Joanna Lumley said:

"The ruling on 30th September last year was clear. The way that successive Governments have treated Gurkhas who retired before 1997 is truly offensive and a stain on our national character.

"These are men who have served in the British Army, sometimes for 20 years and more. Many have actually seen active service and some have won our country's highest honours for valour and service, yet the Government claims they 'do not have a strong enough link to the UK' to have the right to live here with us in the land they have defended with such loyalty.

"The almost spiritual reaction to our campaign shows beyond doubt that the Gurkhas are loved and will be welcomed by the people of Britain".

Long-time Gurkha campaigner and Lib Dem Councillor, Peter Carroll, said:

"Elderly Gurkha veterans are literally dying while they wait for the Government to announce its new policy. Thousands of other Gurkhas are being forced to live in poverty as the Government forbids them to work. They are even denied any help or support from Councils and other Government services.

"Last year, over 250,000 people signed our petition within 6 weeks calling on the Government to allow all British Army retired Gurkhas to have the right to live in Britain. It is shameful that the Government is yet again delaying and playing for time".