Welcome

AN UPDATE FROM THE CHAIRMAN (2019 so far...)

As you are aware, Tony Morland and Charles Lovelace were involved in setting up the National Defence Medal campaign in 2007. The institution of the NDM was seen by the various medal campaign groups such as the National Service group, the Korea Post Armistice campaigners, the Cold War medal campaigners, the Sub Mariners, the Nuclear Testing veterans and those injured in conflict and many others as a medal of generic recognition should their individual submissions finally fail. This is now especially important as each year that goes by the veteran community gets older, smaller, and many medal campaign activists and likely recipients die, become ill or infirmed.

When the NDM was turned down by the Labour Government Armed Forces Minister in mid 2009, without proper consideration, I became involved as the Co-Chair with Tony. We were instrumental in obtaining a Military Medals Review sponsored by the MoD in 2010/11, which former Prime Minister David Cameron initiated. It was aimed at addressing the inconsistency and injustice of medallic recognition of those who had served in the Armed Forces, since the ending of the Second World War. This MoD medal review turned down all the medal submissions, without a proper review and without speaking to a single veteran. Tony, Charles and myself worked tirelessly to show to Prime Minister Cameron, that the MoD medal review was flawed and discredited.

As a result of this work, Prime Minister Cameron aborted the medal review and removed the responsibility from the MoD. In May 2012 the Prime Minister instituted a fresh medal review under the sponsorship of the Cabinet Office and with an independent Chair. The review got off to a good start and Sir John Holmes the Chair spoke to all the various medal campaign groups and reviewed their written submissions. However, the next stage of the review was kept secret and no further discussions with veterans took place. On 29 July 2014 a statement was made in the House of Lords as the MPs in the House of Commons had left for their summer recess the day before. The medal campaign groups were shocked, the majority of medal submissions had been turned down without explanation. We now know why there had been so much secrecy, this medal review, billed by government 'as the most wide ranging for a generation' had been fudged.

For almost five years the Cabinet Office have expended thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on barristers and solicitors in trying to keep information from their discredited Military Medals Review out of the public domain. Seven separate judicial tribunals, involving 10 different tribunal judges, have now directed that the information sought is in the public interest to release. It is quite staggering, the minutes of the various meetings show that no official records were made of the inaugural military medals review meeting, minutes of other meetings show that some medal submissions were not reviewed appropriately and twenty one medal submissions not reviewed at all. The information released show that there was a lack of due diligence of the review by the Cabinet Office, with Parliament being misled, individual members of parliament being misled, veteran medal campaign groups being misled and misinformation presented to the judicial tribunal proceedings. In addition, the Honours, Decorations and Medals Committee, whose members are the most senior civil servants and is one of the most prestigious Committees in the Land, made decisions on the medal submissions which were without foundation, recommendations which could not be substantiated and with some of its members failing to attend these crucial meetings. When appraised of these shortfall they took no remedial action to deal with the issues.

Since December 2014 I have regularly offered, on behalf of the medal campaign groups, to meet with senior civil servants within the Honours and Appointments Secretariat including its present Head, with the current Chair of the Honours, Decorations and Medals Committee and with the Minister for the Cabinet Office to try and resolve the issues and take the matter forward in a constructive way. All my offers have been ignored.
I submitted a complaint in late March to the Minister responsible for the Cabinet Office, The Rt Hon David Lidington MP, requesting an independent investigation of this dreadful situation. It is not known yet if the Minister has been appraised of the complaint as for the past two months the very people who should be investigated as part of my complaint appear to be dealing with my complaint on the Minister's behalf and in doing so are trying to restrict or avoid totally my serious complaint being investigated. 

All that the medal campaign groups have ever sought is a fair review of their submissions in an open and transparent manner. If they have a case the medal they seek should be recommended to Her Majesty for institution. If not the reasons for the submission being turned down should be objective, clear and made public. 

Should an independent investigation not take place of this complaint there will be no alternative but to seek an evaluation of the total Military Medals Review process by the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Hopefully such a time consuming course of action can be avoided by the Cabinet Office re-instituting an open, transparent and fair review. 

Surely, those who have served deserve better.

Colonel Terry Scriven
Chairman, UK National Defence Medal Campaign


2018 CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN

Dear Veteran,
 
Happy Christmas to you and your loved ones.  Sadly, as in previous years, some of our activists and campaigners have suffered illness and some have passed away. We are all grateful for their contributions over many years and our thoughts are with their families at this particularly difficult time of year.
 
Each year my letter reaches new readers. I therefore take this opportunity in my Christmas message to explain the rationale for the National Defence Medal.
 
"There has been injustice and inconsistency of medallic recognition of those who served and have kept the Nation and its interests safe and secure since the ending of the Second World War. Over the years this led to the formation of many medal campaign groups such as National Service veterans, Cold War veterans, Nuclear Testing veterans, Korea Post Armistice veterans, and Service personnel injured in conflict, to name but a few seeking medallic recognition.  As the years have gone by, the campaigners representing these groups have all got older, some have become frail, others ill and many died. Consequently in 2007, the National Defence Medal campaign was launched by representatives of these organisations coming together to make one concerted effort to achieve medallic recognition in their life time through a generic medal should their own claims fail." 

In 2010, former Prime Minister David Cameron, directed this injustice and inconsistency be addressed with a line drawn in the sand on the matter of medallic recognition once and for all. 

The MoD (2010) and Cabinet Office (2012) who had been tasked with providing an open, transparent and fair hearing of all the various medal submissions failed to do so.  Successful Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests identified:


"The loss of government department documents; a failure of the Advisory Military Sub-Committee (AMSC) of the Honours, Decorations and Medal Committee to appropriately review the NDM submission together with other medal submissions and with some submissions not reviewed at all; the absence of members of the Honours, Decorations and Medals Committee from key meetings which discussed the institution of the NDM; unsound decisions made by this committee and who, when made aware of these flaws, failed to take any remedial action; a failure by the Cabinet Office staff to exercise due diligence of the medal review process; the production and promulgation of erroneous NDM costs; the misleading of Parliament and the public; a less than adequate investigation into official complaints made about the flawed medal review process; the failure of the Cabinet Office to provide openness and transparency in respect of the review of the NDM; and the inordinate amount of undisclosed  expenditure of taxpayers? money on legal fees to keep information of public interest on the medal review out of the public domain."
                       

Judgement on the release of information, regarding further alleged failings by the Cabinet Office in relation to the provision of a fair medal review, is awaited from four different FOIA Tribunals which are currently deliberating on their findings. Hopefully, the results of these Tribunals will be known within the coming weeks. I will ensure details of these judgements and judicial directions are placed on the NDM website as soon as they are received.


Last year I closed my Christmas message by reminding those veterans, non-veterans and the media, who read my letter, that all the medal campaign groups have ever sought, yet continually been denied, is an open and transparent medal review, where their submissions are fairly assessed, and if they have a case, their submission is recommended to Her Majesty for medallic recognition, and if not, evidence based reasons are provided as to why not.  This does not seem unreasonable or a lot to ask by our veterans who have kept this Nation and its interests safe and secure since the ending of the Second World War.


After much work by the leaders of many of the medal campaign groups, on what seemed on occasions an almost impossible task, a Parliamentary statement was made on 13 November 2018, which indicated that the AMSC was to be reinstituted. I wrote to Sir Jonathan Stephens, the current Chair of the Honours, Decorations and Medals Committee, on behalf of the various medal campaign groups, requesting he confirm that all those medal submissions, which were either not reviewed appropriately or not reviewed at all by the AMSC in the 2012-2014 military medal review, would be reviewed by this reconstituted sub-committee and that the process would be open, transparent and not protracted due to an aging veteran community.



A week ago, on 6 December, the following Parliamentary statement was made:

"Both the Cabinet Office and the Ministry of Defence have received requests from campaigners for either historic decisions of the award of medals to be reconsidered or new claims to be considered. It is for these reasons that the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals recommended to Her Majesty The Queen that the Advisory Military Sub-Committee be reinstituted earlier this year. Her Majesty graciously agreed to their request. Details of the Sub-Committee?s independent membership and terms of reference will be announced by the Cabinet Office in due course."


Yesterday (11 December) I received a reply from Sir Jonathan Stephens to my letter of 16 November. He informed me that this newly reconstituted AMSC will commence work in the Spring of 2019 and that the independent Chair will be made aware of the history of the previous AMSC and the views of campaign groups such as the National Defence Medal. So far, I have no details of who the Chair or the members of this sub-committee are, however once this information becomes available it will be placed on the NDM website. Sir Jonathan further informs me in his letter that it will be for the AMSC to decide how to engage with veteran groups and that this sub-committee of the Honours, Decorations and Medals Committee have been allocated a page on the gov.uk website. The AMSC will draw their own conclusions as to which cases, if any, should be re-examined and all claims will be considered on their merits. 


Although this situation takes the NDM and other medal campaign groups back to where they were in 2012, it is in the circumstances a major step forward in achieving a fair, open and transparent review of the submissions for medallic recognition, albeit sadly too late for many veterans who have been involved in these campaign groups. I have placed a copy of Sir Jonathan?s letter on the NDM website for your information with my Christmas message and will keep you updated on any further progress as it occurs.

Happy New Year
Yours with best wishes
Colonel Terry Scriven
Chairman National Defence Medal Campaign