Gurkhas champion Lumley hits out
Published 27/03/2010 | 12:36
Joanna Lumley has hit out at what she claimed was a Government smear campaign that saw her accused of "deathly silence" over Gurkhas' rights.
Earlier this month, defence minister Kevan Jones expressed "irritation" with the actress amid claims that Nepalese veterans had been mislead and exploited. "Her deathly silence, frankly, irritates me," he said.
But in a letter, Ms Lumley denounced the allegations.
Signed by the actress, campaigner Peter Carroll and legal advisers Howe & Co Solicitors, it reads: "We feel that these comments are part of a set of actions that constitutes a broader attempt to taint the widely-welcomed positive outcome of the Gurkha Campaign."
Last year, after a lengthy battle spearheaded by Lumley, MPs agreed to throw out rules that prevented retired Gurkhas from settling in the UK.
But recently questions have been raised concerning the advice given to those wishing to make the move.
A parliamentary inquiry is currently looking into allegations that Gurkhas are being encouraged to pay hundreds of pounds in voluntary donations to veterans' organisations in Nepal which then refer them on to UK solicitors.
Giving evidence to the Commons Home Affairs Committee, Mr Jones claimed some of the advice being given to veterans was misleading, encouraging them to expect they would have homes provided when they arrive in Britain.
He expressed "irritation" with Lumley over what he said was her failure to speak out now the problems have emerged.