2019 CHRISTMAS MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN
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.
you for you continued support throughout 2019. Happy Christmas and best wishes
for a healthy 2020.
NDM Chairman has called on Prime Minister May to reopen the shambolic Cabinet Office military medal review, which has revealed a disrespect of British veterans’ service to the Nation. (letter to Prime Minister dated 15 January 2018)
Freedom of Information Act requests submitted in respect of the medal review identified major failings. An inordinate amount of taxpayers’ money has been spent, especially on legal representation, in keeping hidden a murky process, which appears to involve the loss of government documents; failure to review some medal submissions; attempts to disguise the lack of thoroughness of discussions and unsound decisions made by members of the Honours, Decorations and Medals Committee; inaccurate and misleading statements to Members of Parliament and the likelihood misinformation has been presented to Her Majesty the Queen. (letter to Sir Jonathan Stephens dated 15 January 2018).
Sue Gray, Cabinet Office Director General, Propriety and Ethics, has been requested to determine if there is a need for her to initiate any action. (letter to Sue Gray dated 15 January 2018). It is also likely the Parliamentary Ombudsman may be asked to carry out an in-depth evaluation of the whole discredited Cabinet Office sponsored military medal review process.
“It is one of the greatest pleasures of my job that I get to see at first-hand the incredible work of our armed forces. Those who serve our country deserve recognition for their sacrifice throughout their lives. I will continue to make sure that they get it.” Theresa May@theresa_may 9:41 AM-Dec 13, 2017. Thesun.co.uk/5125624/v
I wish you and your loved ones a very happy Christmas and a healthy New Year. First let me apologise for the length of this letter but I thought you would wish me to provide you with as full an update as possible. It has been a busy year for many of our activists for which I would like to say thank you to them on your behalf.
As you are aware as each year has passed, the activities of the various medal campaign groups have lessened due to old age, frailty, illness or in many cases death. 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. Sadly, this year, as in previous years, some of our veterans are no longer with us and our thoughts are with their families at this particularly difficult time of year. Our thoughts are also with those who are ill or infirmed especially those who have been so active in the various medal campaigns and the NDM campaign over the last ten years. We are all getting older.
As in previous years, since 2014, my Christmas message focuses on the now discredited independent medal review, which was carried out under the sponsorship of the Cabinet Office. The subsequent revelations obtained by Dr Martin Halligan through Freedom of Information Act requests have caused and continue to cause much concern and disquiet within the veteran community.
Dr Halligan uncovered the fact that the Advisory Military Sub Committee (AMSC), a sub-committee of the Honours and Decorations Committee (HDC), meeting minutes showed many of the same subjective comments recorded almost word for word as those which had been made in the previous discredited and aborted MoD medal review, particularly in respect of NDM costs. The AMSC failed to review the Korea Post Armistice medal submission, failed to review the National Service Medal submission, the British Cold War Medal submission and many others. Consequently, significant questions have been raised as to the veracity of the AMSC deliberations and the validity of the advice provided to the HDC from which it made its decisions in respect of the medal review.
As a result of information received through Freedom of Information Act requests, our Chairman submitted a complaint on 14 February 2017 to both the Prime Minister Theresa May and to the Minister responsible for the Cabinet Office in respect of the flawed military medal review. He requested that an investigation be carried out into the way that the Cabinet Office had failed to carry out an open, transparent and fair review and requested the Military Medal Review be re-opended. A redacted copy of that complaint can be found HERE.
It is a far reaching dossier and should cause concerns to all veterans in the way their submissions for medallic recognition have been dealt with.
Sir Jonathan Stephens the Chairman of the Honours, Decorations and Medals Committee was tasked with looking into this issue and he directed that a former senior civil servant (unnamed) should carry out an investigation. That investigation report by the unknown senior civil servant dated 23 May 2017 can be found HERE. The investigation into the Chairman's complaint was lacking in fact, indeed some might assess it as being a fudge.
On 28 July 2017 Sir Jonathan Stephens, on behalf of the Cabinet Office and presumably the Government, wrote to our Chairman, enclosed the investigation report and apologised that the Cabinet Office had used inaccurate costs which misled Parliament in respect of higher costs of the NDM. Sir Jonathan's letter can be found HERE.
Our Chairman replied to Sir Jonathan Stephens on 31 July 2017 expressing his disappointment at the failure to carry out a thorough investigation of the complaint and the misinformation that had been circulating in the Cabinet Office about the National Defence Medal. Our Chairman's letter can be found HERE.
Once again the veterans of the Nation have been let down. Now is the time for readers of the above documents, if they believe an injustice has been carried out, to write to their local MP and request that the military medal review be re-opened and all of the medal submissions made by the various medal campaign groups be reassessed fairly and in an open and transparent manner as promised by the former Prime Minister David Cameron.
On 29th July 2014 a Ministerial statement was made in the House of Lords in respect of the Honours, Decorations and Medal Committee (HDC) decision not to institute the National Defence Medal and many other medal submissions, which included recognition of service personnel injured or killed in conflict, National Service, Korean Post Armistice, Cold War, Sub Mariners and Nuclear Testing veterans. The timing of this statement was questionable as it was made the day after Parliament had risen for the summer recess thereby avoiding debate by MPs. The HDC membership comprises seven of the most senior civil servants in the UK.
This ministerial statement was surprising, it was as if the HDC had not been aware of the content of the submissions made by these veteran groups, many of whom had been campaigning for over 50 years. This resulted in Dr Martin Halligan submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to the Ministry of Defence to obtain sight of the minutes of the Advisory Military Sub Committee of the HDC (AMSC) meeting minutes of 29th August 2013. The AMSC had supposedly studied the findings of the Sir John Holmes independent military medal review, sponsored by the Cabinet Office, and made recommendations after their exhaustive review of the findings and submissions by the veteran groups to the HDC.
The MoD refused to release the minutes, Dr Halligan appealed in August 2014. The MoD used their legal representatives to keep these minutes secret . During a three year period the MoD used every means at their disposal to prevent these minutes from entering the public arena, but eventually the appeal was upheld by the First Tier Tribunal which directed the MoD to release the minutes. These minutes were released in September 2016 and are contained on this web site. The minutes show that the case for the NDM and all the other submissions had not been rigorously reviewed. Both the National Service and Cold War veterans’ submissions were dismissed without any review, the NDM dismissed with discussions on cost only and not on its merits and the and Korea Post Armistice submissions documents not reviewed. The recommendations therefore that went to the HDC, from which these seven senior civil servants made their decisions on the medal submissions representing millions of veterans since the ending of the Second World War were totally flawed. However, it should be noted that FOI requests have failed so far to identify how many of these most senior civil servants were there to make the decisions.
It was clear from this document, reluctantly released by the MoD, that the review, claimed by the Head of the Honours and Appointments Secretariat to have been transparent with decisions made as a result of extensive discussions through a careful and thorough review of submissions, in letters to veterans, service organisations and Members of Parliament, stretching over three years, was misleading and not correct.
The Chairman wrote to the Prime Minister Theresa May, in November and December 2016, requesting a meeting to discuss the above revelations and requested the shameful military medal review be reopened. In both cases the Chairman’s letters were redirected by Number 10 to the Cabinet Office, Honours and Appointments Secretariat to reply. In these replies the points made by the Chairman were dismissed. This resulted in him submitting a comprehensive complaint on 14 February 2017 to the Minister responsible for the Cabinet Office about the lack of due diligence carried out by the Honours and Appointments Secretariat in respect of the military medal review and that action now be taken to recommend to the Prime Minister the medal review be revisited.
Sir Jonathan Stephens KCB the Permanent Under-Secretary for the Northern Ireland Office and the Chairman of the HDC was tasked by the Minister to deal with the complaint. He in turn on the 30 March directed an examination (investigation) be carried out by a retired senior civil servant. On the 3rd April the Chairman requested that Sir Jonathan Stephens agree to the Chairman issuing a brief statement to veterans on the situation. As at today's date the 6 May no reply has been received, Parliament has been dissolved and a General Election is scheduled for the 8thJune.
The campaign goes on to redress this injustice to millions of British Service veterans. It should be noted that there are six Freedom of Information Act requests still outstanding in respect of this cover up. Some have been on-going for over two years and most have now escalated through the Freedom of Information Act process to the First Tier Tribunal with one actually now reaching the Upper Tribunal. Both the MoD and Cabinet Office have spent extraordinary amounts of taxpayers’ money since 2014 in keeping out of the public domain information about a military medal review, which the former Prime Minister David Cameron stated should be an open and transparent process and draw a line in the sand once and for all. Veterans have suffered yet another injustice.
FORCES sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn has got behind a veteran campaigners quest for medal recognition for all members of the armed forces. Roy Wilson wants a National Defence Medal (NDM) created for everyone who has served in the armed forces since the end of the Second World War.
The British Government has never considered service in the Armed Forces as the sole justification for an honour.
The liaison officer for National Service Veterans Association charmed the 94-year-old wartime songstress at the London Poppy Appeal launch, in Horse Guards Parade, in central
The whole NDM team wish to thank Roy, Dave and Eddie for their amazing effort.
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