Midland tycoon Sir Jack Hayward has thrown his weight behind the campaign to allow all retired Gurkhas to live in the UK.
The Wolverhampton-born multi-millionaire, who has an estimated fortune of £160 million, echoed comments by actress Joanna Lumley for the Government to “honour our debt” to the Gurkhas.
Last month a High Court judge ruled the Government’s immigration policy excluding them was unlawful and in need of urgent review. More than 2,000 former Gurkha soldiers have been refused permission to settle in the UK because they retired before July 1997.
The Nepalese fighters are now pressurising Parliament to implement new policy.
Miss Lumley will join Gurkhas and Justice campaign co-ordinator Peter Carroll at the House of Lords, where a Bill which would see a change in the law will go for its third reading. A similar Bill has been introduced in the Commons by Bob Russell, Liberal Democrat MP for Colchester.
Campaigners are hoping to garner a million signatures for their petition and persuade the Government to pass the new laws.
Sir Jack, the former owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC, was an RAF Flight Lieutenant during the Second World War and flew gliders in behind enemy lines in Burma.
He has donated £20,000 to the Gurkha Justice campaign and said: “I am delighted to give something to the Gurkhas to help, in some small way, repay the debt I and my country owe to them. They come from a land thousands of miles from the conflicts of war in which this country of ours has found itself involved.
“They themselves were never threatened, yet, to a man they have volunteered to fight for us wherever they were asked.
“I flew them into war in Burma in 1944. I know from first-hand their loyalty, their gallantry, their un-swerving devotion to the British Army. We owe them a debt that we can never fully repay.”
Immigration rules introduced in 2004 allowed retired Gurkhas with at least four years service to settle in the UK. But the rules only apply to Gurkhas discharged from the British Army before July 1 1997.
The Bill, introduced by Lord Lee of Trafford, would allow Gurkhas who left service before 1997 to be granted indefinite leave to enter and remain in the UK.
Miss Lumley, whose father served with the Gurkhas for 30 years, said: “I will be in Portcullis House asking for MPs on all sides of the House to support this Bill and our Gurkha heroes. The fact that the Bill has enjoyed cross party support in the Lords is a magnificent and hopeful sign.
“I will also be asking MPs to sign up to our online petition. The Government has a historic opportunity to put right this terrible wrong.
“Letting this Bill stand will honour our debt.”
The Gurkha brigade was formed following the partition of India in 1947 but Nepalese Gurkha soldiers have been part of the British Army for almost 200 years.
More than 200,000 Gurkhas fought for the Allies during the first and second world wars, with 43,000 giving their lives.
The Gurkha motto is “Better to die than be a coward”.
Supporters can sign the petition at www.gurkhajustice.org.uk.