News celebrates medal campaign victory

By Paul McNally

The News, Portsmouth, has won its campaign to recognise the
achievements of the men who sailed in the Arctic convoys in the Second
World War.

Working alongside a team of former Arctic veterans, the Johnston
Press title campaigned for eight years for the Government to award
medals to 3,000 war veterans who worked in freezing conditions
providing supplies for coalition troops.

In 2004 The News
officially launched the “Last Chance for Justice” campaign, working
with veterans’ leader Eddie Grenfell to put added pressure on Whitehall.

It
collected a 45,000-signature petition which was handed in at Downing
Street after a march through central London by hundreds of Arctic
veterans and their supporters in March 2004. The campaign was backed by
429 MPs.

As part of the campaign, political editor at The News
David Maddox ran a series of exposés on the inner workings of the civil
service.

The Government’s decision to award the Arctic Star, an
emblem made of white enamel with a red dot to represent Russia, which
is added to Second World War service medals, has been hailed as a major
victory for The News and war veterans.

In a leader, Mike Gilson,
editor of The News, said: “Two years ago this day looked a million
miles away. This fight has sadly revealed that Britain still does not
enjoy truly open government.

Too often it is run by unelected civil servants.”

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