Joanna Lumley criticised for abandoning Gurkha community

Tuesday 16th September 2014 14:47 EDT

Joanna Lumley, the actress who had campaigned for the rights of the Gurkhas, is under severe criticism by the Tory MP Sir Gerald Howarth who represents Aldershot. The town has been experiencing multiple complaints from its constituents regarding discomfort and some have, reportedly, even left the place.

Lumley has received flak for failing to return to this constituency since Gurkhas who retired before 1997 won the right to settle. Aldershot, since then, has seen a marked influx of Gurkhas and their families.

MP Sir Gerald said many of the constituents he represents were 'aggrieved' the actress had been 'nowhere near' since the victory of this 'very emotional' campaign in 2009.

This concern was raised in a debate during which he also called the plight of some of the older ex-servicemen who are unable to speak English. This, he said, is a 'tragic consequence' of the campaign’s success.

He explained, “The problem does not lie with the younger, recently retired veterans, who speak good English and don't struggle to find work. The problem arises with the older former Gurkhas who are generally unable to speak English, have virtually no job prospects, are unfamiliar with our customs and often with failing health, inevitably because they are elderly”.

Responding to the comments in her summing up speech, Anna Soubry, the defence minister, said, “Joanna Lumley’s campaign had the highest and most honourable of motives and it was to be welcomed, and it was the right thing to do”.

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