Gurkha PoWs win compensation

Three elderly former Gurkhas stand to receive £10,000 in compensation after winning their test case in the High Court today.

The three, who fought for the British in the Second World War, challenged a Ministry of Defence decision excluding them from compensation payments for the brutal treatment they suffered as prisoners of the Japanese.

Their lawyers argued that they had been the victims of unequal treatment and racial discrimination by the UK Government.

Today, solicitor Phil Shiner, of Public Interest Lawyers, said the ex-Gurkhas had won their case and would receive "ex-gratia" payments of £10,000 each from a fund set up to benefit surviving British PoWs held by the Japanese.

The case had been heard by Mr Justice McCombe, sitting in London, as a matter of urgency because of the age and health of the applicants - Pahalman Gurung, Gaurisor Thapa and Hukumsing Pun.

Lawyers for the three, who are now in their 80s and living in Nepal, argued that the decision by the MoD not to compensate them was a breach of their human rights.

Today's win could affect more than 300 other surviving ex-Gurkhas, they added.

Mr Justice McCombe, now out on circuit, gave his judgment - holding that the decision to exclude the Gurkhas was irrational and inconsistent with the principle of equality - at Preston Crown Court this afternoon.

Birmingham-based Mr Shiner commented outside court: "The Gurkhas have fought enough battles to prove their loyalty and dedication to Britain."

One of the three Gurkhas, Pahalman Gurung, said: "I am delighted to have won. I was proud to remain loyal to my British oath in the Second World War and as a consequence I took severe punishment from the Japanese.

"To be acknowledged for this at my age of 81 is very important to me. It is an issue of principle for me and others that we should be treated equally and recognised for our service to the British."

Today's challenge was one of a series of discrimination cases being brought by Gurkha soldiers against the British Government.

The main case, which is expected to be heard early next year, alleges discrimination against them in pay and pensions and if the Gurkhas win could cost the MoD £2 billion.

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