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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 10:07 GMT
War heroes 'denied Jubilee medals'
The Queen
The Queen is rewarding members of the services
Tony Blair is to investigate claims that holders of Britain's highest awards for bravery are being denied Golden Jubilee medals.

Former Conservative Northern Ireland minister Michael Mates has asked the Prime Minister to take up the case of the 27 remaining holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross.

Mr Mates, who was Lieutenant-Colonel in the Queen's Dragoon Guards, said their awards had been blocked by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The Queen will be awarding members of the services throughout the UK with a medal pressed to celebrate her Golden Jubilee - the 50th anniversary of her accession to the throne.
Michael Mates, MP for Hampshire East
Michael Mates: "Injustice must be put right"

The services to be honoured include the police, fire and ambulance services, the Coastguard, Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Mountain Rescue Service.

But Mr Mates told the Commons at Prime Minister's Questions that, despite the strongest recommendations from the Ministry of Defence, the DCMS had refused to give medals to holders of the Victoria Cross and George Cross.

The Hampshire East MP said: "There are only 27 living holders of these two highest awards for supreme valour - 14 holders of the Victoria Cross and 13 of civilian equivalent, the George Cross.

"To deny them their share in the celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Queen, on whose behalf they have shown so much courage, is mean and petty-minded.

'Deprived'

"This injustice must be put right, and quickly."

To murmurs of approval from other MPs, Mr Mates asked Mr Blair to ensure "the bravest of the brave are not deprived of this honour they so richly deserve?"

Mr Blair responded: "I will look into it, although I give him no promises on it."

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12 Feb 02 | Northern Ireland
Minister rejects jubilee medal plan
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