Mar 29 2010
Gurkha campaigner Joanna Lumley rounded angrily on a minister after he apologised "unreservedly" for attacking her "deathly silence" on the issue since she forced a Government climbdown.
Ms Lumley spoke out after veterans minister Kevan Jones emphasised he had "the greatest of respect" for the actress and the Gurkha justice campaign she supported.
Earlier this month he told MPs there had been "a deathly silence" from Ms Lumley on the issue of Gurkha resettlement since ministers backed down.
Campaigners claimed that other false allegations and criticisms had been made against those fighting for the Gurkha campaign.
Ms Lumley, who accused the minister of smearing her, told a London news conference: "We have come here with a sense of regret that we have had to come to this, which is really to clear our names in public." She said that over the past month or so, articles have appeared "which must have put doubts in the hearts of" supporters.
She went on: "We want to call on the Prime Minister to confirm that the policy is one that he completely supports, that the Ministry of Defence is behind everything they said they would be behind."
The Government climbdown last year promised settlement rights in the UK for all Gurkha veterans.
Minutes before Ms Lumley spoke, Mr Jones said in a statement: "I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused to Joanna Lumley by my remarks to the Home Affairs Committee - this was not intended.
"I have the greatest of respect for Joanna for the superb work that she has done on Gurkha issues. I want to put on the record that I accept that Joanna and her campaign did not seek to mislead Gurkhas about the life that they could expect if they relocated to the UK.
"My sole concern, and that of this Government, with which I know Joanna agrees, is to stop unscrupulous middlemen ripping off and misleading vulnerable ex-Gurkhas who are entitled to settle in the UK when our free service already exists to help them without charge."