September 12, 2008

Lumley to March With Gurkhas


ACTRESS Joanna Lumley (right) will march with the Gurkhas next week to highlight their fight for rights to settle in Britain and better Army pensions.

They will head for the Royal Courts of Justice in London's Strand on Tuesday for a challenge to their immigration status.

Gurkhas who retired from the British Army after 1997 can automatically stay in the UK, but those who retired earlier must apply and can be refused and deported.

The Absolutely Fabulous actress will lead thousands of ex- British Gurkha soldiers and their families to the courts for a test case being brought by five veteran Gurkhas and the veteran's widow.

Howe & Co, the solicitors representing them, said the case will affect more than 2,000 retired Gurkhas who have been denied the right to settle in the UK.

Among the protesters will be Victoria Cross winner Honorary Lieutenant Tul Bahadur Pun who served with Lumley's father during the Second World War in Burma. Lumley said: "My own father served with the Gurkhas for 30 years. Indeed, he saw action as a Chindit in Burma with Mr Pun VC. Like so many people in Britain I am ashamed at how successive governments have failed these magnificent and loyal soldiers.

"The overwhelming wish of the British is to allow them to live here with us if they so choose. I sincerely hope the court finds in their favour next week."

The Gurkhas have also struggled for many years for equal pension rights which for those who retired before 1997 are about a quarter of the level paid to those who served after that time.

The High Court case and demonstration is part of a series of events planned across the week.

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