THE Ministry of Defence has been accused of a ‘whitewash’ after it emerged officials spent just 34 days on a government review of medals for forgotten war heroes – and concluded nothing should change.
Veterans, including men who served in the dangerous Arctic Convoys during the Second World War, hoped the coalition government’s review of the Honours and Decorations (HD) Committee would end decades of waiting for a medal.
But secret MoD documents show civil servants – under the command of HD Committee member Air Vice Marshal David Murray – spent just 34 days working on the review between November 19 last year and January 10 before telling the Prime Minister not to award new medals.
Commander Eddie Grenfell, 91, of Portsea, said: ‘This is a disgrace. The MoD did not contact us for our views first. The fact it took such little time to conduct their review seems to prove this was an MoD paper exercise and a whitewash from the beginning.’
Information released under the Freedom of Information Act shows a ‘final draft’ of the MoD’s review was sent to Mr Cameron on February 16.
But the Prime Minister was unhappy veterans had not been consulted and ordered copies to be sent to medal campaigners for them to submit a response.
The draft report mailed to veterans argued no new medals should be awarded and contained worrying inaccuracies – including a claim 190,000 people served in the Arctic Convoys when 66,000 British sailors actually braved daily German air and sea attacks to supply the Soviet Union.
As a result, the MoD has now been inundated with responses from veterans and a defence source said it could take ‘many months’ until the review is finally settled.
Tony Morland, of the UK National Defence Medal campaign, which obtained the MoD files, said: ‘It’s an absolute shambles. Why didn’t they just contact veterans from the start?’
Mr Morland, who wants a medal for everyone who has served in the forces since the Second World War, added: ‘They’ve basically been allowed to review themselves.
‘I want to see an independent review.’
An MoD spokesman denied the review has been a ‘whitewash’ and said: ‘We are working with the veterans.
‘This is an ongoing review and there is no date for when it will end.’