Anger at decision on Gurkha veterans

The Government today loosened, but didn't eliminate, immigration restrictions for Nepalese veterans of the country's armed forces.

The government said the change would allow about 4,000 more Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 to live permanently in Britain.

But advocates for the Nepalese soldiers said the new policy was still too limited and imposed too many conditions on those seeking the right to settle in the UK.

The Nepalese soldiers, mercenaries recruited from the Himalayan hills, have fought for Britain for about 200 years, including recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Immigration rules introduced five years ago allowed Gurkhas with at least four years' service to settle in the UK, but the rules didn't apply to Gurkhas discharged from the British Army before 1997. The government argued some of those veterans had weak links to Britain and should have their cases reviewed individually, rather than having an automatic right to settle.

The rules announced Friday say the Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 — more than 30,000, according to government estimates — can settle automatically if certain conditions are met.

Those could include having served 20 years, receiving a military award or having incurred an injury while serving. Special consideration will also be given for those who have family living in Britain.

"They have set criteria that are unattainable," Gurkha lawyer David Enright said, noting that some Gurkha veterans weren't even allowed to serve as long as 20 years. "It's a sham and an absolute disgrace."

Actress Joanna Lumley, known for her role as Patsy on the television show "Absolutely Fabulous," and a longtime supporter of the Gurkhas, said, "The Gurkhas cannot meet these new criteria. It makes me ashamed of our government."

The government's actions Friday followed a court decision last year ordering a rewrite of the immigration for the older Gurkha vets. Enright said Gurkha advocates would now take their case back to the court.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said it was unrealistic for Gurkha advocates to think that the government could allow all those who served before 1997 to settle in Britain.

"It has never been the case that all Gurkhas pre-1997 were going to be allowed to settle in this country. Were we to do that, with their dependents, you could be looking at up to 100,000 people," Woolas said.

Enright said such figures are unrealistic, because not all of the vets who retired before 1997 actually want to come to Britain.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want it for the fitness tech, or for the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own