By Tim Saunders on
British actress Joanna Lumley is reportedly furious over a new ruling regarding Gurkhas in the UK.
Lumley threw her weight behind the plight of over 4000 Gurkhas seeking residency in the UK last year. The Gurkhas are part of a famous regiment of Nepalese soldiers that has fought for Britain since 1815, most recently in Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. Although they have fought and died for Britain, a court ruling means those who retired before 1997 have no automatic right to live in Britain. All other foreign soldiers in the British Army can settle in Britain after four years’ service anywhere in the world.
She was brought to tears on Friday when the British government officially turned their backs on the former soldiers, allowing only 100 residency in the UK, and introducing tough rules and criteria governing their applications.
“The Gurkhas cannot meet these new criteria,” she said. “It makes me ashamed of our government. We will fight on. We don’t stop. This has set us back in its obtuse lack of understanding of any of the problems facing these men or, I think, of the conditions facing soldiers. I think this is inexplicable. I can only think they have no notion of the armed services. They have no direct experience of what it is.”
She also vowed to continue the campaign, saying: “This is a setback. We simply regroup and start again. We don’t give up the battle just because one of the tactics has failed.”
The sentiments follow statements she made earlier this year.
“It is disgraceful that our democratic Government has refused to listen to the will of the people. The ruling last year was clear and the way that successive governments have treated Gurkhas who retired before 1997 is truly offensive and a stain on our national character. These are men who have served in the British Army, sometimes for 20 years and more, and some have won our country’s highest honors for valor and service.
“My father served alongside the Gurkhas for 30 years. I am a daughter of the regiment. He would be absolutely overwhelmed with shame and fury that we have behaved this way to the Gurkhas, our most loyal and constant friends. I am never ashamed to be British, but I am ashamed of the behavior of the British legal system towards these brave men. We have discriminated against them dreadfully. It is a stain on our relationship.”
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