Lumley Slams Officials Over Gurkhas

Lumley slams officials over Gurkhas

The Press Association
January 15, 2009

Actress Joanna Lumley accused defence officials of scaremongering about the potential cost of settling retired Gurkhas in the UK.

A report in Wednesday's Evening Standard said military officials were concerned the introduction of blanket residence rights for veterans could cost British taxpayers between one billion and three billion pounds.

One reason is Gurkhas moving to Britain will be entitled to full pensions. At the moment, those living in Nepal receive only about a third of that.

Ms Lumley, who found fame with roles in The New Avengers and Absolutely Fabulous, supports the Gurkha Justice Campaign which wants to give veterans who retired or were discharged from the Army before 1997 the automatic right to settle here. Currently only those who retired or were discharged after July 1 1997 are eligible.

Ms Lumley, whose father served with the 6th Gurkha Rifles, said: “These stories that say letting retired Gurkhas live in the UK will cost billions of pounds and be a drain on services like the NHS are simply scaremongering.

“The numbers of retired Gurkhas that are likely to come to the UK are small when compared to immigration into this country.”

In September, the High Court ruled the immigration policy used to exclude pre-1997 retired Gurkhas from the UK was unlawful.

The Government is currently drawing up its guidance on Gurkha settlement rights and has said it will review outstanding cases after it is published.

An MoD spokesman refused to comment on the Evening Standard's report, saying only: “We have never sought to pre-judge the outcome of the Home Office review of the immigration rules for Gurkhas.

“The Government continues to recognise the courage and commitment that the Gurkhas have given to this country over many decades.