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Last Updated: Friday, 1 June 2007, 15:56 GMT 16:56 UK
Gurkha hero can live in Britain
Tul Bahadur Pun
Mr Pun wants better access to health care in the UK
A former Gurkha who won the Victoria Cross has been given the right to live in the UK.

Tul Bahadur Pun, 84, wanted to move from Nepal for medical reasons but had been told he was unable to demonstrate strong enough British ties.

Immigration Minister Liam Byrne has now said his case is "exceptional" and he will be granted a visa due to a "heroic record in the service of Britain".

Former Rifleman Mr Pun was awarded his medal for World War II action in Burma.

After the rest of his section, the 3rd Battalion, 6th Gurkha Rifles, had been killed, he carried out a solo attack on a machinegun post.

Actress Joanna Lumley backed Mr Pun's campaign to live in the UK because she said he risked his life to rescue her father.

It is entirely right that this record should not only be recognised but honoured
Liam Byrne, Immigration Minister

Mr Pun's lawyers had lodged an appeal which was due to be heard in August.

His solicitor, Martin Howe, said the government did have the power to let him live in the country.

"There is a discretionary policy that is there and available to all Gurkha ex-servicemen who retired prior to 1997 and they are entitled to come to the UK and live here if they can show strong reasons and I think it's beyond doubt that this man has shown those," he said.

'Utmost loyalty'

Mr Pun has diabetes, high blood pressure, heart problems and asthma. His eyesight and hearing are poor.

He receives a British army pension of 132 a month, which he must collect in person from the Gurkha army camp at Pokhara - a three-hour drive away from his home.

Mr Pun applied for indefinite leave to enter Britain but British officials in Nepal rejected the request.

However, Mr Byrne has said he and Home Secretary John Reid reviewed the case and decided to grant Mr Pun a settlement visa immediately.

"This decision was not taken lightly and reflects the extraordinary nature of this case, in particular Mr Pun's heroic record in service of Britain which saw him awarded the Victoria Cross," Mr Byrne said.

"It is entirely right that this record should not only be recognised but honoured.

"We have also taken into consideration his current medical condition."

More than 12,000 people signed a petition on the Downing Street website calling on the prime minister "to immediately and retrospectively give all Gurkha servicemen and their immediate families past and present British citizenship".




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Tul Bahadur Pun explains why he wants to live in the UK



SEE ALSO
Straw defends Gurkha help offer
06 Jan 05 |  UK Politics
Gurkhas' UK citizen bid reviewed
01 Sep 04 |  Merseyside

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