How the Gurkhas' victory was sealed with a kiss from Lumley

They had held a vigil at Westminster for weeks, protesting against what they saw us betrayal by the British government. Yesterday the Gurkhas celebrated at a Downing Street garden party after winning the historic right for veterans to settle in this country.

The Government's effective surrender on the issue in the face of a hugely popular campaign came in a Commons statement by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith yesterday afternoon. A little later, surrounded by more than 100 former soldiers the Prime Minister talked of his "great privilege" in welcoming the "bravest of all" to Britain.

Gordon Brown also paid tribute to the actress Joanna Lumley who has been the high-profile public face in the fight for Gurkha rights. He said: " She has been very persuasive and she has charmed not only the Cabinet, but the whole country."

One of those Ms Lumley apparently "charmed" was immigration minister Phil Woolas, whom she "ambushed" in a television interview and wrung from him the concession that the Gurkha settlement policy would be reviewed.

Ms Lumley revealed yesterday that a subsequent rapprochement had included a fish and chips and champagne supper at her London home followed by a goodnight kiss. She said: "I'm pleased to say we kissed on the doorstep, so there we are. A great injustice has been righted. The Gurkhas are coming home.

She added: "I would like to pay tribute to Gordon Brown the Prime Minister, a brave man who has made today a brave decision on behalf of the bravest of the brave. This is a fantastic day for my brothers and sisters. It is so thrilling to have overcome something which has gone on for so long. We knew it would be something good – but this is the best."

Some campaigners felt kissing Mr Woolas went way beyond the call of duty, but the veterans said they appreciated the work done by the actress, whose father served with the Gurkhas, in securing their victory. Mohan Bahadur Rai, who had been in the Army for 11 years, said: "We went through some very difficult times on this, and Miss Joanna was always there with us, so we want to thank her for her help. We feel this has been a great achievement for everyone."

Samser Jang Khastri, 58, who lost a foot after stepping on a landmine in Bosnia in 1997 said yesterday's decision has made "all my pain worthwhile. I have been unable to work since the accident and live on £40 housing benefit in a room in north London. But none of that matters. Today is all that matters for the Gurkhas. We are so pleased and meeting the Prime Minister has made me more proud than I have ever felt".

Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg, whose Commons motion led directly to the U-turn, said: "Gordon Brown has finally woken up to the principle that people across Britain understand instinctively: if someone is prepared to die for this country, they must be allowed to live in it. Tragically this decision will come too late for many of those brave Gurkhas who have been waiting so long to see justice done. Gordon Brown's claim of a "moral compass" rings hollow when, on every issue from Gurkhas to expenses, he has to be dragged every inch of the way towards doing the right thing."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living