UK residents who read this blog may be aware that Gurkha soldiers who retired before 1997 have been fighting for the right to settle in the UK, just like their colleagues who retired after 1997 and their counterparts from Commonwealth countries. The law on this is so phenomenally unjust that it is hard to credit how it could have come into existence in the first place. How could we arbitrarily exclude these wonderful soldiers who have fought alongside the British Army for 200 years with enormous distinction?
Legal proceedings took place today and the decision of the High Court was favourable, allowing those five individual Gurkhas who brought the action to have their cases reviewed. This was good news but it is not the end of the matter. It is thought that a further 2,000 Gurkhas may be affected if the law is changed for all of them – and of course their numbers are not going to increase, indeed some have died already while awaiting this judgement.
The Home Secretary has responded by saying “I have always been clear that where there is a compelling case, soldiers and their families should be considered for settlement. We will honour our commitment to the Gurkhas by reviewing all cases by the end of the year.”
This mealy-mouthed minister-speak is nowhere near good enough. Nick Clegg (the Lib-Dem leader) was right on target in my view when he said “I’ve always felt that if someone is prepared to die for this country, then they should have the right to live in this country.”
What is needed now is an urgent and fundamental change in the law and a petition is being organised in the hope of achieving just that. If you are a UK resident, would you please consider going on line at http://www.gurkhajustice.org.uk/ to sign the petition – it costs nothing and will take only two minutes.