Gurkhas lose latest battle over British army pensions

Image caption,
The test case affects 25,000 retired Gurkha soldiers

Retired Gurkha soldiers have lost their battle with the Ministry of Defence over their army pensions.

The British Gurkha Welfare Society had challenged a decision to limit the pensions received by those who left the service before 1997.

The test case, which affects about 25,000 veterans, was heard at the High Court.

The Ministry of Defence argued the pension cut-off date was "justified and proportionate".

But Retired Major Tikendra Dal Dewan, chairman of the Gurkha Welfare Society, said: "We are very disappointed with the court's judgment and will be conferring with our legal team over the coming days to discuss taking our case to the European courts.

"We maintain that there is a cost benefit to the UK in resolving this issue, let alone the moral obligation of ensuring a respectable quality of life for these elderly Gurkhas and their families, all of whom have given great and devoted service to the UK's armed forces."

Changes to pension rules in 2007 gave serving Gurkha soldiers equal pension rights with other service personnel in the UK.

But the British Gurkha Welfare Society said about 25,000 men who had retired before 1 July 1997 were denied the opportunity to transfer into UK armed forces pension schemes.

It claimed the government was acting unlawfully in paying them a third of the income of UK-based soldiers.

Gurkhas, who are recruited from Nepal, have been part of the British army for almost 200 years.

Last year all retired Gurkhas won the right to live in the UK, following a high-profile campaign championed by actress Joanna Lumley.

The Ministry of Defence said over the course of a retirement "these Gurkha soldiers will receive at least the same amount of pension as their British counterparts".

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