Former Chief of Defence Staff ‘ashamed’ by UK Government’s treatment of Afghan interpreters


A former Afghan interpreter who worked with British forces for 16 years was told that he could not move to the UK despite living in fear of reprisals from the Taliban.

And now the former head of the military has said he is ashamed by the Government’s decision not to allow him to seek refuge in Britain.

Lord Richards, who was Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) from 2010 – 2013, said last night that the translator – known as Ricky – was a ‘brave and loyal servant of the Armed Forces’.

“What is our country becoming when a brave and loyal servant of the Armed Forces is condemned to a life spent in fear and yet those who seek economic advantage are allowed into our country in their tens of thousands each year? What does this say of our lack of generosity of spirit and sense of right and wrong? I am ashamed of this decision and of those who took it.”

Under current rules, hundreds of interpreters are not allowed into the UK because they left British service before December 2012.

In Ricky’s case, he served past that date but he did not serve in Helmand Province – which is another rule in the policy that prevents translators from coming.

Last night, No 10 refused to back down on the current policy on the relocation scheme for Afghan interpreters, despite widespread condemnation from all parties and the military.

Asked if the Prime Minister was happy with the operation of the scheme, a spokesman said: “We recognise the service of those interpreters and that is why we have these schemes in place to provide support.”

Three ex-heads of the military, former heads of the Army, Navy and RAF, Cabinet minister Liam Fox and MPs who served in the military have all backed a campaign to offer more support for translators who have been abandoned by the UK post Afghanistan.

On top of this, 178,000 people have signed a petition to allow loyal interpreters to come to the UK – but still the Government has refused to amend its policy.

The defence select committee is currently conducting a new inquiry into the treatment of Afghan interpreters.

Did you serve with any while On Operation Herrick? Do you know what treatment they received afterwards?