FOREIGN secretary William Hague has been blasted for his latest snub of the Arctic Convoy veterans.
Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock wrote to Mr Hague demanding to know why the veterans of the harrowing Second World War campaign are not allowed to accept a medal offered to them by the Russian government.
The Russians want to give the veterans the prestigious Ushakov medal – which would mark the second time they have honoured them.
But the British government has blocked the move.
In his letter, Mr Hague said: ‘The decision not to give permission for the Ushakov medal to be accepted was made in accordance with the current British rules on the acceptance of foreign awards and only after very careful consideration of all the information provided by the Russian Embassy.
‘However, it was found that this information did not show that the intended recipients had given specific service to Russia within the last five years as required by those rules.’
He goes on to explain that the government would reconsider any cases where it could be shown that the intended recipients had given service to Russia more recently.
Mr Hancock said: ‘It’s a very disappointing, typically bureaucratic response, and it’s typical of everything to do with the Arctic Convoy veterans. They are treated with absolute contempt by everyone in government.
‘The excuses Hague has put forward, I thought he was a better politician than that and he was more attuned to what the public think.
‘I’m still waiting for a response from David Cameron as well, not only about why they can’t receive the medal from Russia, but when they are going to get a medal from Britain. They hide behind a bureaucratic, outdated nonsense of a system and do a great disservice to the men, their families and what they did.’
Sir John Holmes is currently conducting a review into the honours system, looking in part at grievances relating to an Arctic Convoys medal, which is due to be completed by the end of this year. Many veterans believe this will be their last chance to gain recognition from the government.