Falklands hero hunger strike: PM asked to help | UK | News
Express. Home of the Daily and Sunday Express.
THERESA May has been urged to intervene to end the emotional hunger strike protest of Falklands War veteran Gus Hales. The ex-paratrooper's MP Chris Davies has contacted the Prime Minister in a bid to bring the case to "a swift conclusion".
Hopes of a breakthrough came as Gus, 62, endured a 10th day without food in a protest over the "disgraceful" lack of mental health care for ex-soldiers and the hounding of Northern Ireland veterans.
The married father says his comrades from the 1982 conflict in the South Atlantic and tours of duty in Ulster have been "betrayed".
Mr Davies, Tory MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, supports him but has asked him to end the fast over growing fears for his health.
Mr Davies, who has met with Veterans Minister Tobias Ellwood about Gus, said: "It is vital that the country does not just talk about supporting veterans, but actually does it.
"This case shows weaknesses in the system that must be fixed."
Gus has endured freezing temperatures living in a tent outside the Audley Court treatment centre run by charity Combat Stress in Newport, Shropshire.
The former sergeant with 9 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers received treatment for PTSD at the centre for many years before his support was axed three years ago.
The charity has now admitted his treatment fell "well short of accepted practice" and has pledged to review veterans' cases.
Daily Express front page: War Veteran Goes On Hunger Strike (Image: Daily Express)
Campaigners say more than 150 ex-Forces personnel and their families have complained of failings.
On Sunday the President of Combat Stress, former head of the British Army General Sir Peter Wall, visited Gus and apologised.
Gus, from Builth Wells, Powys, wants a full independent inquiry into the "systemic failings" of the charity. He has pledged to continue his protest until Armistice Day.
Yesterday Mr Davies hit out at Combat Stress, which he says he has been lobbying on Gus's behalf after the veteran's wife Angela, 61, urged him to take up the case.
10 days without food for veteran Gus Hales (Image: JONATHAN BUCKMASTER)
The MP said: "I am saddened Mr Hales has felt the need to take such drastic action. When I heard of his hunger strike I was in Westminster.
"I immediately arranged meetings with Mr Ellwood and contacted the Prime Minister's office."
Mr Hales accused Combat Stress of repeatedly changing its position over Gus, adding: "If they had admitted they had not followed procedure in the first place this situation would have been avoided."
Gus said: "Mr Davies is quite correct. If I had been taken seriously over the last three years I wouldn't be here now.
PM Theresa May has been urged to intervene to halt hunger strike (Image: Steve Back/Getty Images)
"There's an empty chair next to me. If the Prime Minister wants to sit here I'll tell her what the problems are with care for veterans."
Leona Roberts, a member of the Falklands Islands government, travelled up from official meetings in London to visit Gus.
She said: "It was incredibly moving. All British veterans are very dear to us."
A spokeskman for the Prime Minister declined to comment.