Veterans medal claim to be heard in parliament

Arctic Convoy veterans protest in London in 2004 - they are still waiting for a medal
Arctic Convoy veterans protest in London in 2004 - they are still waiting for a medal

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THE campaign for a medal to honour the forgotten Arctic Convoy veterans will reach parliament on Tuesday.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has won a House of Commons debate to grill the veterans minister Andrew Robathan on why the government has so far failed to honour the Conservatives’ pre-election promise to strike a medal for the Second World War heroes the next time they came into power.

It comes after The News’ 15-year medal campaign hit national headlines when we revealed prime minister David Cameron had appeared to go back on his support for the veterans in a letter which said they’d had enough recognition.

Tory Ms Dinenage, who is supporting the veterans, will lead a 30-minute debate on the scandal on Tuesday at 12.30pm in Westminster Hall.

She said: ‘This is a big step forward. It’s the first time there has been a debate solely on this issue in the Commons.’

Westminster Hall debates don’t go to a vote but otherwise have the same power as the main Commons chamber.

Veterans hope the government will finally listen to them and end their 65-year wait for justice to be done.

Ms Dinenage said: ‘This debate is a powerful way of connecting with the minister and getting across the strength of feeling. I’m confident it can make a difference and I want to dispel the myths the MoD is putting out about the Arctic Convoys.’

MoD civil servants have refused to acknowledge the veterans’ claims.

The suits argue the 66,500 men who braved a sub-zero gauntlet of Nazi U-boats and warplanes were recognised with the Atlantic Star. But that medal was for a separate campaign 800 miles away from the freezing Arctic where 3,000 British sailors lost their lives trying to supply the Soviet Union with enough arms to repel Hitler’s invading forces.

The Arctic veterans have long been ignored but the Tory party in opposition promised them a medal.

However, since the coalition government was formed in June 2010, the veterans have faced a series of knock-backs. Firstly, instead of awarding the medal, Mr Cameron ordered the Ministry of Defence to review the medals system.

That’s now been stopped after 18 months and replaced with a new, independent review which the ageing veterans fear could take even longer.