Rejected Gurkha cases to be reviewed

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Legal letters written to five Gurkhas rejecting their applications to live in Britain have 'no practical effect', Gordon Brown's spokesman assured today.

Gurkha campaigners led by actress Joanna Lumley feared the group of five Gurkhas, including Falklands and Gulf War veterans, would be denied the right to come to Britain.

But the cases will be re-examined under new rules to be published by the end of July.

Immigration Minister Phil Woolas said he was confident all five cases would be resolved in favour of the veterans.



Campaigners delayed the start of an emergency press conference in Westminster while they digested the Government's statement.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said the letters explained how the Gurkhas would have been dealt with under the criteria set out by Mr Woolas around a fortnight ago, but had "no practical effect" because a review has since been launched.

The cases will be reassessed under the new guidelines produced as a result of the review and to be published by July 21.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said: "The Home Office had a legal obligation to write to the five individuals who were involved in the judicial review cases to explain to them how they would have been assessed under the old criteria.

"But they are also making clear that the criteria will change and therefore any decisions reached under the old criteria will not be implemented.

"This is nothing more than a consequence of the court decision of a few weeks ago and an obligation on the Home Office to write to the individuals concerned for legal reasons. The criteria are changing, so therefore these letters have no practical effect."



Mr Woolas told Sky News: "It is not true to say that this is shocking and devastating. The Gurkhas are running a very effective campaign. They feel very passionately and I understand that but I have to stick by the law.

"There are new guidelines coming forward and no action will be taken until those guidelines are in place and I am confident, and I can give you reassurance, that these cases will be settled in favour of the Gurkhas.

"By the end of the month we will have finished those 1,500 cases and in June we will produce new guidelines based on the decision of the House of Commons and the experience of those 1,500 cases."



Mr Woolas and Lumley later began an impromptu meeting in the Millbank television studios where the press conference was due to be held to discuss the developments.

The letter sent to the five soldiers today, published by the Home Office, makes clear the decision was an interim one.

The letter states: "I have carefully considered your case against the criteria and regret to inform you that you do not qualify for settlement under the current guidance."

"However the UK Border Agency has committed to considering this guidance and will come forward with proposals for the next stage of the reform of the rules before 21 July 2009 and, while you do not qualify for settlement now, your case will be reconsidered when the next stage of reform has been finalised and I shall write to you again very soon after that."



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