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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