Sunday, April 04, 2010


I get all my news from Twitter these days. I found Nick's latest: Actually, Ms Lumley, you should apologise too via JackofKent.

Get the popcorn! @nickcohen2 vs Joanna Lumley IMO Nick is *entirely* right about this scam.

Jack of Kent (David Allen Green) is a lawyer; I am not. He also seems a decent enough bloke. Still, fools rush in, and all that.

And when Joanna Lumley combined with English lawyers Howe & Co and the Gurkha Ex-Servicemen's Organisation (Gaeso) to demand that the government allowed veterans to settle in Britain, she, too, seemed to be standing up against an injustice so clear only the blind could miss it.
So she was. When Lumley, the media and the opposition parties said that Gurkhas should have the same rights as other foreign veterans, they were highlighting a blatant double standard. Nothing wrong with that, but as I mentioned a few weeks ago, the campaign against state hypocrisy had blind spots of its own. Since then, allegations about the abuse and exploitation of often weak and illiterate men have grown louder.

This isn't a story which Nick has courageously broken on his own. Simon Hattenstone in the Saturday paper interviewed Ms Lumley.

We meet ostensibly to discuss a TV documentary series she has made about the Nile. When I ask about the Gurkhas, she tells me, firmly, that we're here to talk about the Nile. All right, but it's strange that she should refuse to talk about the one thing she wouldn't shut up about last year.

"Sorry, we can't go on to Gurkhas, we do have to do Nile," she says. And she does look sorry. Twitchy, uncomfortable and sorry.

I ask about the backlash against her. She stares at me. Why has she gone so quiet on the subject? She stares again. OK, she says, you really want to know why I've been quiet? Simple, she says, it was part of the deal – once she had secured victory for the Gurkhas, she agreed to put a sock in it. She takes a deep breath, and out it all pours. "The government didn't want this Gurkha thing to stay in the headlines, and when we got everything we wanted, we said we'll do things privately, have meetings with the home secretary, setting up all sorts of things to make sure everything works. Suddenly this blows up from a government minister. We've all promised to keep quiet, quiet, quiet, and now we're not going to keep quiet any more. We're just going to have to refute every single piece of it." (Four days after we meet, Lumley and Martin Howe, the lawyer whose firm advised the Gurkhas, hold a press conference in which they say that Whitehall has conducted a smear campaign against them.) The most offensive thing, she says, is that Jones suggested it was her job to inform Gurkhas of their new rights. "The impertinence of it! This is his government's policy. It's bullshit. I think the MP called our lawyers shysters and unscrupulous. I mean SHOCKING." She says the lawyers won the settlement case on legal aid. As for the false promises she is alleged to have made, she doesn't know where to start. "Now we've been accused of promising them £1,000 a week, houses, cars. It's bullshit. We've never said a thing about it. Bullshit. Scandalous. SCANDALOUS."

And the Daily Mail on the 11th of March: Gurkhas 'milked for millions in racket over visas'.

The full extent of how charity workers and lawyers are raking in millions of pounds from helping Gurkhas settle in the UK was exposed last night.
A charity linked to Joanna Lumley has been accused of 'conning' Gurkhas out of their life savings by charging them £500 for advice before they fly to Britain.
A firm of lawyers has also pocketed £1million in taxpayers' money to do the same thing.

Nudge, nudge, etc. "Millions" in the title and then the mention of "£1million in taxpayers' money" - but that didn't come from the Gurkas - that came from their former employer, the British Government. And that's not "milking" BTW.

Miss Lumley was last night under mounting pressure over her refusal to speak out after a minister said he was 'irritated' by her ' deafening silence' over the scandal.
There is no suggestion that Miss Lumley and Howe & Co have done anything illegal.

Harrumph. Nick likes the 'deafening silence' quote too. Not just an ordinary or common or garden silence for the former Avengers' actress, but a deafening one, and nobody likes those. Those, you'll agree, are the particularly sinister kind that give you chills.

But the story really comes from the second para of the Mail "A charity linked to Joanna Lumley..." The Wikipedia entry on Joanna Lumley doesn't link her to GAESO.

Nick also links to the Transcripts of emails between GAESO and Howe & Co on the Nepali Times site. The British firm (which Ms Lumley clearly has worked with) has, as the Mail says, not done any illegal (or even dodgy).

It's clear to me that GAESO is indeed slippery and exploitative. It's a lot less clear why Joanna Lumley should apologise for someone else's actions. Because no good deed goes unpunished? Because she embarrassed our government? Nick:

British campaigners including Lumley, knew about his allegations, but preferred to accept the organisation's assurances that all contributions were voluntary. Last year, dissident Gaeso members filed a lawsuit against the president, alleging long-standing corruption.

What was she supposed to do? Get involved in the in-fighting between members of a charity? How would that help? If one lot file a lawsuit against their former colleagues, it's best to keep quiet until a court decides, isn't it?

I know that "GAESO took the actress on a victory tour of Nepal last year". (From the Mail.) I still don't think she's culpable in any way. As always, I welcome evidence of further "links".

Nick is right about Bob Geldof, though.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick is also promoting the latest offering from the neo-con house band 'The Indelicates'.

It manages the impressive feat of being more cringeingly and embarrassingly pretentious than anything they have done before.

4/04/2010 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I know. But I've avoiding listening to them for that reason. He also predicted that Dr Who might fail in a tweet last night. Oh well, I'll quote myself: Waiting for @nickcohen2 assessment of Dr Who. "Is Earth a threat to the Atraxi?" "Has Earth broken Atraxi laws?" Reminds me of something... and earlier: #drwho Article 57 of the Shadow Convention... they're not going to let Iraq go, are they?

4/04/2010 12:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

J of K is a decent bloke, right enough - he means well, and his legal blogging is very good. He is one of these "sceptics" who seem to spend a lot of time being, you know, ostentatiously sceptical about things that don't correspond to their own conditioned beliefs, but I'll forgive him that. And he is matey with Nick, thanks to Nick's admirable work on the Simon Singh case. Let's hope he's sceptical about some of Nick's wilder theories.

The Indelicates... oh lordy. Harry's Place set to music was one thing we didn't need.

4/04/2010 03:54:00 PM  
Blogger Jack of Kent said...

It is very flattering that a tweet of mine can trigger such compliments, an interesting blogpost, and such insightful comments.

Thank you :-)

4/04/2010 04:58:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I should note that she wasn't in The Avengers: she was in The New Avengers.

4/04/2010 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Asteri said...

A possitive review of 'The Indelicates'

"You don’t often come across a song that’s the musical equivalent of Observer columnist Nick Cohen’s critiques of the UK’s leftwing and its frequent backing of religious fundamentalists in support of their blinkered hatred of America"

Oh dear me, the idea that that is something all to rare....

4/04/2010 05:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's Shadow Proclamation, incidentally.


4/11/2010 09:34:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh, ouch. OK I didn't know that the lustrous Ms Lumley was in 'The New Avengers' (see previous thread where we discussed being middle class and not watching ITV). But Shadow Proclamation for a UN type body? It just doesn't make sense. I should have known. Or checked, at least.

4/11/2010 09:40:00 PM  

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