Welcome

 

NEW YEAR 2021 NEWSLETTER 

FROM COLONEL TERRY SCRIVEN

CHAIR OF THE UK NATIONAL DEFENCE MEDAL CAMPAIGN


May I take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a safe and healthy 2021 at this difficult time, which has been caused by Covid-19.


The publication of this newsletter has purposely been delayed until 31st January. This was to allow time for the Chair of the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO) to provide an update on his internal review, of the mismanagement of the PHSO investigation, into the discredited Cabinet Office sponsored 2012-14 Military Medals Review (MMR) process. The newsletter also includes the results of my application, on your behalf, to the High Court for a Judicial Review of the MMR. In addition, it provides an update on the progress of our request to the Head of the Civil Service, who is also the Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office, for an investigation into the potential contravention by senior civil servants of the Civil Service Code and alleged failings of the Committee for Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee) involvement in the MMR.


My newsletter always attracts new readers, I therefore make no apologies for briefly explaining why the UK National Defence Medal (NDM) campaign was first established and why the 2012-14 MMR is considered discredited.


UK NDM Campaign

The NDM campaign was established in 2007. It came about through the leaders of the various veteran medal campaign groups such as National Service, Cold War, Korea Post Armistice, Sub Mariners and Nuclear Testing, failing to achieve medallic recognition for their individual group medal submissions. Some dating back to 1945 and others back to the 1960s. Many of those in the medal campaign groups are ill and frail, and many dying through old age or indeed the illnesses suffered due to their military service. These groups therefore decided that should their individual medal submissions fail, the institution of a generic NDM would provide their veterans a last opportunity, in their lifetime, to achieve medallic recognition of their service to the Nation.


Discredited Military Medals Review

Prime Minister Cameron was sympathetic to the plight of the military medal campaign groups, and in early 2010 made a commitment to carry out a review of all outstanding medal claims. He assured veterans there would be a fair and transparent review, aimed at removing the injustice and inconsistency, which had existed over the past 60 years, and that a definitive line would be drawn on the matter once and for all.


The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had two attempts at carrying out the MMR in 2010 and 2011. Both attempts failed to address the issues. Consequently in 2012, Prime Minister Cameron removed the responsibility from the MoD and placed it with the Cabinet Office.

The Cabinet Office sponsored 2012-14 MMR had a public function and duty to evaluate all submissions placed before it by the military medal campaign groups, address the injustice and inconsistencies in medallic recognition, and draw a definitive line on the issue once and for all. It did not do so.


Activities by senior civil servants, during and after this MMR, indicated a failure to follow appropriate procedures. Displaying a lack of due diligence, openness, transparency, and fairness when assessing the submissions made by the military medal campaign groups. Within the Cabinet Office Honours Secretariat, a strategy of misinformation about the MMR process appeared to exist. Attempts were also made to keep information out of the public domain. This, understandably, led to accusations of an alleged cover up of the maladministration and dysfunctional MMR process. More recently the Cabinet Office appear to have been responsible for misleading the PHSO about the MMR. Such actions, if shown to be founded, have contravened the Civil Service Code. It is therefore considered to be in the Nation’s interest these allegations are transparently investigated.


On behalf of the military campaign groups, I brought these perceived failures to the attention of the Minister responsible for the Cabinet Office. The Minister had a public function and duty to review those submissions made to the MMR for medallic recognition, which had either not been reviewed or reviewed appropriately. However, he failed to take any action. In addition, the Prime Minister’s Office had been regularly briefed by me, on behalf of the medal campaign groups, about these failings but also failed to take any remedial action. This was considered a breach of its public function, duty, and its responsibility for the MMR it had established, thereby enabling the failings of the Cabinet Office to go unchecked.


The Parliamentary Health Service Ombudsman Investigation

I am aware of the effective work that the PHSO carry out within its Charter, the professionalism of those who carry out that work and who represent it. Unfortunately, in respect of the complaint submitted to it, via the Rt Hon Ian Blackford MP, by Dr Martin Halligan, the leader of the medal campaign for those Injured in Conflict, there were significant failings.

Dr Halligan’s complaint was submitted on 11 August 2019, just over four weeks after the Minister for the Cabinet Office, on 12 July 2019, closed-down all possibilities of the medal submissions, which had not been reviewed appropriately or not at all, being assessed by the reopening of the MMR. He requested the PHSO to:


“Investigate a complaint that injustice has been caused by the maladministration on the part of the Cabinet Office in respect of the Military Medals Review and involvement in what appears to have been an attempt to cover up what was a dysfunctional process.” 


The PHSO effectively sat on Dr Halligan’s request for an investigation into the Cabinet Office’s MMR process for over a year. A letter from a PHSO senior caseworker to Dr Halligan and myself, indicated that the Cabinet Office had been involved in the PHSO failure to investigate the complaint. This was however denied by a barrister, acting for the Cabinet Office, in their submission to the High Court in response to our application for a Judicial Review.


In November 2020 I requested, on Dr Halligan’s behalf, that the Chair of the PHSO carry out an internal review as to why Dr Halligan’s request for an investigation of the Cabinet Office sponsored MMR was not correctly processed within its Charter.


It appears the delay in dealing with Dr Halligan’s request for an investigation and my request for an internal review was due to them being kept from the Chair. A PHSO investigations-manager who is the supervisor of the senior caseworkers involved in Dr Halligan’s complaint, replied to my request for an internal review, attempting to brush everything aside. In reply to the PHSO, I made it clear each PHSO Board Member would be briefed on the mishandling of Dr Halligan’s serious complaint and my request for an internal review unless they were addressed by the Chair or his representative. It is understood that my request for an internal review has now been passed to the Chair. Despite allowing time for a response on this matter, there has still been no communication from the Chair of the PHSO.


Application to the High Court

By the end of August 2020, various medal campaign group leaders considered that after a year of procrastination by the PHSO and five years of Judicial Tribunals, in attempting to seek the truth and trying to right a wrong, the only way forward was through a Judicial Review. It was however, still thought possible that an application for a Judicial Review could be avoided, by attempting yet again, to apprise Prime Minister Johnson and the Minister for the Cabinet Office, the Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, of the unsatisfactory situation. Consequently, my letter to both, dated 1st September 2020, specifically sought their support to resolve the sensitive matter of the MMR. It was thought once they saw the evidence, they would direct the issues of the discredited MMR be dealt with by the Cabinet Office. We were wrong. The only communication received was from a Government Legal Department solicitor who had been instructed to represent the Cabinet Office. This was a surprise. Sadly, like the Chair of the PHSO, it is doubtful Prime Minister Johnson or Mr Gove have been made aware of what has taken place in respect of the Nation’s veterans.


The statutory requirement to be able to initiate a Judicial Review, is that not more than three months should have elapsed after the grounds to make the claim first occurred. The barrister, on behalf of the Cabinet Office, submitted to the High Court Judge that those grounds first arose in respect of the 2012-14 MMR on 29 July 2014, when Baroness Stowell made the written ministerial statement on its findings to the House of Lords. However, at that time the military medal campaign groups had no evidence whatsoever of wrong-doing or even three months after, that anything untoward had taken place in the MMR process, other than their suspicions.


The Cabinet Office also sought costs for preparing the acknowledgement of service in respect of my application as a Litigant in Person for a Judicial Review (unregistered organisations such as the medal campaign groups are unable to make applications for a Judicial Review).

The application for a Judicial Review was heard in the High Court on 19 November 2020. It was clear the Cabinet Office legal team had put all their efforts into relying on the statutory time limit. Little reference was made to our 620 pages of evidence, which portrayed the dysfunctionality and maladministration of the MMR and the alleged contravention of the Civil Service Code by senior civil servants. This showed a total disrespect of the service given by our Armed Forces veterans to the Nation.


It had been thought that evidence obtained, by the medal campaign groups from their separate involvement in nine Freedom of Information Act Judicial Tribunals, together with the questionable conduct of senior civil servants and delays brought about by the Cabinet Office in the judicial process, would have been sufficient to obtain agreement from the Judge to waive the three-month statutory time limit.


We were wrong. The Judge found in favour of the Cabinet Office, stating inter alia,

“I am therefore satisfied that it would not be fair, just, or reasonable to extend time in this case. The time limits are there for a reason. The duty of promptitude is obvious: it enables cases to be dealt with timeously and for justice to be administered on a fair and proportionate basis.”


In addition, the Judge directed I should pay the Cabinet Office their legal fees of £5,750. I had 14 days in which to appeal but did not do so. Unless an Appeal Court was going to look beyond the ‘statutory time limit’ argument, the strength of our case, which laid bare the MMR process, would not be heard.


Complaint to the Head of the Civil Service

Mr Chisholm, is the Head of the Civil Service, now designated the Chief Operations Officer for the Civil Service, and is the Permanent Secretary for the Cabinet Office. He has been requested by me to investigate the alleged contraventions of the Civil Service Code which appear to have taken place both during and after the 2012-14 MMR. These include: the loss of Government Department documents; failure of the sub-committee of the HD Committee to appropriately review the medal submissions, some not at all; unsound decisions made by the HD Committee, misleading statements by the Head of the Honours Secretariat to two Judicial Tribunals; lack of remedial action by the HD Committee when made aware of the failings of the MMR process; absence of HD Committee members from its meetings; inadequate investigations into the failings which exonerated everyone and everything; production and promulgation of erroneous NDM costs both in the Ministerial Statement on 29 July 2014 and subsequently to Parliament; misuse and failure to account for taxpayers’ money and more recently provision of misinformation to the PHSO.


In addition, to this request, I have asked Mr Chisholm to determine whether the person who instructed the Government Legal Department to challenge my application for a Judicial Review, without first exploring a resolution and replying to the conciliatory letter dated 1st September 2020 to Prime Minister Johnson and Mr Gove, was one of those civil servants who is alleged to have contravened the Civil Service Code during the 2012-14 MMR or in subsequent actions relating to it. If that turns out to be the situation, such an action is considered an extremely serious contravention of the Code. I will seek guidance from Mr Chisholm as to what action should be taken and request the Cabinet Office to waiver their legal costs.


The latest communication from Mr Chisholm’s Private Secretary on 22 December 2020, stated that he had gathered the necessary information and would hope to write to me after the Christmas break with a fuller update. On 14 January 2021, I sent the Private Secretary a draft copy of this newsletter, requesting he highlight any inaccuracies, and provided him an opportunity to suggest any amendments or additional information for inclusion. So far, no further correspondence has been received from Mr Chisholm’s office.


Addressing Injustice and Inconsistency

I accept there is an argument as to why the MoD and Cabinet Office may believe former servicemen and women should not receive backdated medallic recognition. However, looking back on my twelve years as the co-Chair/Chair of the UK NDM campaign, and representing the leaders of other medal campaign groups, it is difficult to understand why those who have served and kept the Nation safe and secure, are denied an open and transparent medal review, where their submissions are fairly assessed. I also find, what appears to have been an attempt to cover up what has taken place, both during and after the 2012-2014 MMR, quite shameful.


If it were not for the Covid-19 pandemic, I am sure there would be overwhelming concern across the Nation and in the media, that three military medal reviews, established by former Prime Minister Cameron, with the aim of addressing the injustice and inconstancy of medallic recognition of our veterans, have been discredited, together with potential breaches of the Civil Service Code by senior civil servants involved. There would, I am sure, also be concern that a reputable organisation such as the PHSO has procrastinated on its involvement in addressing the failings of the MMR process for over a year.


I have spoken to leaders of various medal campaign groups, veterans, and some of the next of kin of those medal campaigners no longer with us. They would be content to draw a line on this distasteful episode in exchange for an open and transparent review, which assesses fairly those medal submissions which were not reviewed or not reviewed appropriately during the 2012-14 MMR.


None of the medal campaign groups involved or those representing them have political affiliations. However, it is appropriate I should record appreciation to the Rt Hon Ian Blackford MP and the staff of his Constituency Office for Ross, Skye, and Lochaber, for the support they have shown to their constituent Dr Halligan and veterans, in enabling his request to be submitted to the PHSO for an investigation into the Cabinet Office sponsored MMR.


You may consider, having read this newsletter, it is worth sending a copy to your local MP for information.

Keep safe in these difficult times.

Yours with best wishes

Terry Scriven



2019 CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN

Dear Veteran,


Sadly, as in previous years, more of our activists and campaigners have suffered illness and some have passed away. We who remain are grateful for their contributions over many years and our thoughts are with their families at this particularly difficult time of year. 


It has been a year of many successes. However, it may appear to those who have not travelled with us over the past decade that after discrediting three military medal reviews, we are still no closer to achieving medallic recognition for our millions of veterans.

 

For new readers of my annual Christmas message it is perhaps worth stating why the National Defence Medal campaign was first initiated. The following was contained in our submission to the Cabinet Office sponsored military medals review in 2012 and has not changed:


“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 lifetime through a generic medal should their own claims fail.” 


So where are we now and what should we realistically look forward to in 2020?


By early March this year, nine different judges in seven separate legal judicial tribunal proceedings, directed that information sought by various military medal campaign groups in their Freedom of Information Act requests should be released. Many of these cases had been ongoing for three years due to the refusal of both the Cabinet Office and MoD to release the information. The information released supported the complaints by veterans that senior civil servants within the Cabinet Office Honours and Appointments Secretariat had misled Parliament, misled individual Members of Parliament and been responsible for misleading statements submitted to judicial tribunals. It was found that 21 medal submissions had not been reviewed by the Advisory Military Sub-Committee (AMSC) a sub-committee of the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals (HD Committee), in what the Government had declared was to have been the most wide-ranging military medals review for a generation. Other medal submissions were shown not to have been reviewed appropriately by the AMSC and its members found to have made unsubstantiated statements. There also appeared to have been a lack of due diligence by the HD Committee.


On behalf of the various medal campaign groups I submitted on 22 March a detailed complaint, which encompassed the irregularities of the review, to the Minister responsible for the Cabinet Office. I also requested the Minister initiate an independent investigation into the lack of openness and transparency, lack of due diligence and the on-going attempts to cover up these failings. In addition, the Minister was requested to direct that the newly formed AMSC, which in December 2018, Her Majesty had directed should be re-established, re-visit all the medal submissions which the previous AMSC had failed to deal with appropriately or in the case of 21 medal submissions, not at all.


In July, I received a final response to my complaint from the Senior Private Secretary to the Minister. It was an attempt to close the complaint down. The failings of the medal review process, unearthed in the judicial tribunal proceedings, were totally ignored. It was in effect an attempt to continue the cover up of what was the third discredited military medal review in a decade.


The only way forward on behalf of the various medal campaign groups, who had been shown such disrespect, was to now seek an investigation into the whole distasteful episode by the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Such a request can only be submitted by a Member of Parliament on behalf of a constituent. Therefore, on 5 August the Rt Hon Ian Blackford MP submitted on behalf of his constituent Dr Martin Halligan, the leader of the campaign for medallic recognition of those injured in conflict and a National Defence Medal activist, the following request:


“To investigate a complaint that injustice has been caused by the maladministration on the part of the Cabinet Office in respect of the Military Medals Review and involvement in what appears to have been an attempt to cover up what was a dysfunctional process. All efforts to resolve this matter in any other way have been exhausted.”


The submission dealt with the complaint I had submitted on your behalf on 22 March and the response received from the Minister’s Senior Private Secretary. It covered the judicial directions of the seven tribunals and provided details of those individuals in senior appointments who had been involved in the dysfunctional medals review of what was ‘billed’ by government as the most wide-ranging military medals review for a generation. 


Although the Queen had agreed to the re-constitution of the AMSC in December last year and it had been expected to be operational by the Spring of this year, nothing materialised. However, surprisingly on 9 August, two weeks after I had informed the Honours and Appointments Secretariat that a request was being submitted to the Parliamentary Ombudsman for an investigation, the Terms of Reference for a newly constituted AMSC were promulgated and it commenced work. The concerning part of the reconstituted AMSC’s Terms of Reference is the following sentence: 


         “Claims submitted must not have been considered as part of previous work in 2013 to 

          consider specific medals claims (list and reports here) unless new evidence emerged.”  

          (No list was attached to the AMSC document or available).


It was considered prudent to test this situation therefore one medal group whose submission made to the 2012 medal review and was not reviewed by the previous AMSC was submitted to this reconstituted sub-committee. The submission was turned down on the grounds it had already been presented previously. 


On 4 September the Parliamentary Ombudsman confirmed the request for an investigation had been accepted. To date no further communication from the Parliamentary Ombudsman has been received other than to request copies of additional documents. However, the sheer magnitude of the documents to be assessed by the Ombudsman in discussion with the Cabinet Office and the recent General Election may well delay any outcome being promulgated until the early Spring of 2020. It should be noted that a copy of all correspondence in respect of the recent rejection by the reconstituted AMSC outlined in the previous paragraph has been submitted to the Parliamentary Ombudsman for inclusion in the investigation.


So, what should we expect in the coming Year? Hopefully, the Parliamentary Ombudsman will recommend to the Cabinet Office, on behalf of the Government, that all the original submissions to the military medals review in 2012, which were never properly considered by the AMSC or not at all, should be updated where appropriate and resubmitted to the newly reconstituted AMSC. However, it is worth remembering that many of those submissions were written by veterans, who were then senior in their years. Those submissions were placed in good faith in 2012. These veterans are now seven years older and it is likely that some of their number are no longer with us. Even a requirement to re-submit their original claims may be too much to ask. However, to simply discount them from inclusion in this new review would be a disgrace and nothing short of a national scandal. 


Veterans have welcomed the creation of a new Government Office for Veteran Affairs. The Minister in charge, who is also the Cabinet Office Minister, has been informed of the investigation being carried out by the Parliamentary Ombudsman and therefore will no doubt become fully involved.


Finally, I remind readers that all the military 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 is not unreasonable. It is therefore worth reflecting on the amount of money that has been expended by Government Departments in trying to cover up this unsavoury situation over the past twelve years and in their disrespectful treatment of those who have served the Nation. Perhaps this will all change in 2020 with a new Government responding to a Parliamentary Ombudsman investigation report. I will keep you briefed.


Thank you for you continued support throughout 2019. Happy Christmas and best wishes for a healthy 2020.


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