In a bid to end the ongoing discrimination suffered by the Gurkha community, Public Interest Lawyers have sent a letter before action to the Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox. Sent on behalf of a number of clients represented by the Gurkha Army Ex-Serviceman’s Organisation (GAESO UK) the letter before action seeks a long overdue review of the pension and severance entitlements provided to Gurkha soldiers on retirement. A response from the Government is required by 8 November 2010.
Members of the Coalition Government have in the past been publicly very supportive of the Gurkha cause and we hope that Ministers will stand by their previous words of support and ensure that the ongoing discrimination suffered by the Gurkhas is finally brought to an end. It should be a matter of national shame that the Gurkhas have had to resort to a long running history of litigation and media campaigns in order to try and secure equal treatment.
The High Court and Court of Appeal recently considered a case brought by British Gurkha Welfare Society (BGWS) relating to pension entitlement in which it was found that the differential entitlement was justified. However, the case was issued prior to the change in the 2009 immigration rules which were for the purposes of the litigation “agreed by all parties to be irrelevant”. Our letter before action demands a formal review of pension entitlement in light of those important immigration rule changes. The changes fundamentally alter the assumption of where Gurkhas and their families are likely to retire and therefore alter the premise on which differential pension entitlement was previously justified.
All Gurkhas now have the right to live and settle in the UK. Our clients, after loyally serving this Country, have chosen to live here and yet they are left to live in abject poverty, relying on state benefits because the pensions that they receive are wholly inadequate. This unlawful discrimination must end.
Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers comments:
“It cannot be right that a Gurkha soldier, who like his British counterpart has risked life and limb to serve the Crown, is left to live in Britain in poverty simply because he is of a different nationality. The Government must act now to end this ongoing discrimination. Gurkha soldiers and their families deserve equal treatment. That is all they ask for, nothing more, nothing less.”
For more information, please contact Tessa Gregory on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0121 515 5069