Gurkhas in £2bn equality campaign

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Former Gurkhas started a £2bn legal campaign against the Government yesterday, claiming they suffered worse pay and conditions than other British Army soldiers.

In 20 test cases lodged at the High Court the Nepalese soldiers will claim racial discrimination in a human rights challenge against the Ministry of Defence.

Members of the legal team, which is led by Cherie Booth QC, went to the Royal Courts of Justice in London to submit documents setting out their case. These will go before a judge in the next few weeks to decide whether they have "an arguable case".

Padam Gurung, president of the Gurkha Army Ex- Servicemen Association, said: "We have been struggling for six years making peaceful demands for equal treatment, but have not been listened to."

The Gurkhas point to the fact that their people have been loyal servants of the British Crown for 196 years, and have lost between 50,000 and 60,000 lives but been treated "as inferior" when it comes to pay and conditions. They claim their pensions are currently worth between one sixth and one eighth of British ones.

If a judge rules they have an arguable case, their application for a judicial review will come on for a full hearing at a later date.