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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 October 2006, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
PoW wins 'Britishness' court case
Diana Elias
Diana Elias, 83, was interned as a 17-year-old
A woman deemed "not British enough" to be compensated for spending four years as a Japanese prisoner of war has won her case against the government.

Diana Elias, 83, is entitled to a 10,000 award plus nearly 4,000 for injury to her feelings, the Court of Appeal ruled on Tuesday.

The government denied Mrs Elias from Colindale, north London, compensation as she had no "blood link" to the UK.

In his judgment, Lord Justice Mummery criticised the handling of the scheme.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had appealed against a High Court ruling in July last year which found that the blood link rule - that a parent or grandparent must have been born in the UK - was unlawful discrimination on grounds of race.

The Japanese only interned civilians who were British
Diana Elias

This appeal was dismissed by the appeal judges.

Last year when the MoD granted her compensation, they claimed it was on the basis that she had lived in the country for more than 20 years.

In 2000, when the government announced its compensation scheme, Ms Elias was told she did not qualify because her parents were born in Iraq and India.

Stanley camp

Mrs Elias was interned by Japanese troops in Stanley Camp as a 17-year-old along with her parents and siblings after Hong Kong fell to the Japanese in December 1941.

"The Japanese only interned civilians who were British," she said before the Court of Appeal's decision.

"If we were not British me and my family would never have been interned and we would have had our house and all our belongings."

Lord Justice Mummery said Mrs Elias was involved in "no ordinary race discrimination case".

"The result of inadequate preparation has been an embarrassing administrative and legal muddle, personal pain, charges of incompetence, costly litigation and political apologies, accompanied by inquiries, investigations, reports, hearings and reviews," he said.

"A cloud has been cast over what many people would agree was an honourable action of public benevolence."

Watch Diana Elias' story


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