Daily Mail article on 29 May 2007.
Tory Peer and Victoria Cross expert Michael Ashcroft has joined the fight to bring a veteran Gurkha hero back to Britain.
Tul Bahadur Pun, 84, was awarded the VC – the highest honour for military gallantry – after single-handedly storming Japanese machinegun positions during the Second World War.
But despite his astonishing bravery he has been banned from coming to live here because he does not have “strong ties with the UK”.
An incensed Lord Ashcroft, who has a collection of 150 VCs, is determined to help the old soldier.
“Irrespective of anything else, this was a man who earned the Victoria Cross in the service of the British,” he said.
“On compassionate and any other grounds, this is somebody that the population of this country would be delighted to have admitted to the UK. To tell him, at the age of 84, to ‘bugger off’ is despicable.”
Lord Ashcroft, deputy chairman of the Conservative Party and author of the book Victoria Cross Heroes, has arranged a meeting between his advisgratefulers and Mr Pun’s London solicitor to try to overturn the decision banning him from the UK.
The elderly Gurkha has heart problems, asthma, diabetes and high blood pressure and requires daily medication – which is not always available in Nepal.
He wants to come to Britain to ensure he has a reliable supply of medication and good quality care.
He receives a £132-a-month Army pension and has to travel from his mountain home to the Gurkha camp at Pokhara – a day’s walk away – to collect it.
Despite his illustrious record, the man who was invited to the Queen’s Coronation and had tea with the Queen Mother has been refused permission to live in Britain.
He was told: “You have failed to demonstrate that you have strong ties with the UK”.
Officials said he had “not produced satisfactory evidence” that he had a “chronic or long-term medical condition” or that treatment here would significantly improve his quality of life.
Mr Pun, when told of the decision, said: “I have served the UK with the utmost loyalty and to be treated in this way is appalling.”
Lawyers acting for him, along with 2,000 former Gurkhas, will appeal before the immigration courts in London in August.
Mr Pun’s Ealing-based solicitor was grateful for Lord Ashcroft’s support.
Martin Howe said: “I am delighted that a person who is so knowledgeable about the Victoria Cross, and the owner of the world’s largest collection, is putting his full weight behind honourable men who are full of integrity.
“Mr Pun is being made aware of it and I know he will be delighted.”
Mr Pun earned his VC in Burma on June 23, 1944, after nearly all his comrades had been killed.
He grabbed a Bren Gun and, firing-from the hip and running through ankle – deep mud, ignored “shattering” Japanese fire and stormed machine gun positions.
His official citation spoke of his “outstanding courage in the face of odds which meant almost certain death”.
In the 1970s he was paid £500 to hand his medal to the Army which moved it to the regimental museum in Hong Kong for safekeeping.
It is now thought to be in the Gurkha Museum in Winchester.
For more information on bravery, visit:LordAshcroftOnBravery.com