Former Gurkha soldiers are to sue the Ministry of Defence for racial
discrimination after receiving lower pay and pensions than their British
A test case from 20 former Gurkhas, aged between 35 and 83, is expected to
be lodged this week. If the Gurkhas are successful, more than 30,000 soldiers
from the regiment may be entitled to an estimated £2bn worth of compensation
for backdated pay and pension payments from the MoD.
The Gurkhas have fought for the British for almost 200 years, but since 1947
Gurkha pay and pensions have been linked to the Indian Army’s pay code,
creating a wide difference between their pay and British soldiers pay.
The Gurkhas’ solicitor, Phil Shiner of Public Interest Lawyers, said the
case is to be funded by legal aid and is unlikely to be heard before the end of
the year or early 2003.
In court, the Gurkhas are to be represented by the Prime Minister’s wife
Cherie Booth QC’s law firm, Matrix.
Padam Gurung, president of the Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen Association, said
between 50,000 and 60,000 Gurkhas have lost their lives while serving Britain
and deserved the same pay and benefits as other UK regiments.
"All we ask is not to be treated as inferior human beings and to suffer
discrimination," he said.
Nearly 3,600 Gurkhas are serving currently and have recently taken part in
British operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.
An Army spokeswoman would not comment on the details of the case because it
has not yet been lodged.
However, she did say that a pension paid at the UK level would be worth far
more to the Gurkhas in Nepal due to the lower standard of living in that
By Ben Willmott