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The PJM Case - The Final Word?

Here we are starting the story of our case where it may have finished - in March 2007. Two things had happened:

  1. We had uncovered a London Gazette Notice under which The Queen gives eligible British citizens permission to wear medals She had approved to be received - and that applies to the PJM.

    We had achieved our goal to show the world that we really did have the right to wear the PJM.

  2. The Cabinet office promulgated a paper repeating their flawed arguments - a paper that made a travesty of our case.

    That 'full statement' was anything but 'full', other than of half-truths and omissions.

In the following pages, we set out our response to the Cabinet office on both points. As you will read, we are now very comfortable that a few civil servants have tried to deny us a right that The Queen bestowed many years ago. It has taken two long years for us who are in our 60's and 70's, and an enormous cost, but it was worth it.

You can view and/or download the documents displayed below from here:

The Letter: The Letter to the Cabinet Office
Enclosure: The London Gazette 3rd May 1968
Enclosure: The Errors and Omissions in the Cabinet Office "Full Statement"

From: Barry Fleming


Mr Denis Brennan,
Secretary to the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals
Cabinet Office
35 Great Smith Street
London , SW1P 3BQ

12th April 2007

Dear Mr Brennan,

Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM)

I refer to your letter dated 12 th March enclosing your ‘full statement’ and to mine of the 27th March rebutting your views on the 1968 London Gazette Notice.

I do not wish to prolong this continual and unedifying peeling of the onion any more than is necessary, but yet again you have promulgated statements that fall well short of the open and even-handed brief that MPs and MSPs and other interested parties have a right to expect from civil servants. In the attached information sheets, I set out the other side of the story – the one you have endeavoured to bury:

Government Departments have ‘toyed’ with British veterans over many months and have misled people and parliaments. It has taken two years of our lives (and we are all in our 60’s and 70’s), and considerable cost, to show the world that most of those eligible for the PJM have the right to wear it on formal occasions. Here are just a few reasons why we shall continue to campaign for all PJMers to wear their medal with honour:

The March ‘full statement’ that isn’t:

The 1968 London Gazette Notice that is:

The MoD Defence Instruction and Notice 10-002 of January 2006 that confirms both:


In summary, the attached papers support the view that eligible private citizens have The Queen’s permission to wear the PJM – and that some civil servants ( and I do not refer to the HD Committee) have acted outside their remit and in their advice have misrepresented the facts in order to circumvent The Queen’s decree in order that they may continue to withhold the permission that She has already approved.

My purpose in writing to you is to inform you of the above, and to confirm that I shall continue this matter until it is openly and fairly resolved for all those who have been presented with the PJM.

Yours sincerely,

Barry Fleming


The London Gazette 3rd May 1968 (Click to go to Enclosure)

The Errors and Omissions in the Cabinet Office “Full Statement” (Click to go to Enclosure)


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A London Gazette Notice dated 3 rd May 1968 officially promulgates the news that eligible private citizens have The Queen’s approval to wear a medal She has approved for acceptance. All parties agree that the Notice is extant and applies as much today as it did in 1968.

The London Gazette is the accepted organ through which official Notices regarding Honours, Decorations and Medals are promulgated.

We have been told that The Queen approved acceptance of the PJM and, because She did not decree that the medal should not be worn, the Gazette Notice applies to the PJM.

Those eligible under the Notice are those not in Crown Service on the day the medal was approved for conferral by The Queen – and that applies to the vast majority of those eligible for the PJM who had left the services many years before the medal was conferred in January 2006.

It should be noted that ex-service personnel are specifically instructed to abide by Gazette Notices.

Civil servants have endeavoured to circumvent the official Notice and have stated that it is their decree that matters and not that of the Sovereign. We do not agree.

The London Gazette – 3rd May 1968

On the 12th March 2007 the Cabinet Office issued a six-page “full statement” setting out its justification for trying to withhold formal permission for the PJM to be worn. That statement omitted all reference to the following London Gazette Notice of 3 rd May 1968:

“The QUEEN has been graciously pleased to approve that Orders, Decorations and Medals conferred with Her Majesty’s permission upon United Kingdom citizens not being servants of the Crown by the Heads or Governments of Commonwealth countries as defined above, or of foreign States, may in all cases be worn by the recipients without restriction.”

It is our view that that notice promulgates The Queen’s permission for eligible British recipients of the PJM to wear their medal.

Oddly, the civil servants in the Cabinet Office do not agree.

The Cabinet Office View

When the Notice was brought to the attention of the Cabinet Office, their reply acknowledged the existence of the Notice and they went on to reject The Queen’s decree saying it did not apply to recipients of the PJM. Their sole justification was a reference to paragraph 14 of the defunct (by their own admission) 1969 “Part A - Regulations concerning the Acceptance and Wearing by Persons in the Service of the Crown of Orders Decorations and Medals conferred by Heads or Governments of Foreign States and by Members of the Commonwealth Overseas of which The Queen is not the Head of State”.

The Cabinet Office position is that eligibility rests on whether you were in Crown Service at the time of PJM service. Our view is that eligibility rests on whether you were in Crown Service at the time the medal was conferred in 2006.

The key is to understand what was intended by those who were party to the drafting and publishing of the Gazette Notice – the Notice that The Queen approved - and it is on their explanation that we rely, not on that of the current and prejudiced incumbents in the Cabinet Office who have reversed the Notice’s meaning in order to justify their argument!

The following notes explain why we are confident that our advice is correct.

Why both the 1969 Regulations and their selected paragraph cannot be relevant

Having established the irrelevance of the Cabinet Office’s sole reference for dismissing the London Gazette Notice, there are many positive references to confirm that the Notice does indeed apply to the majority of those eligible for the PJM, i.e. those who had retired and were not in Crown service at the time The Queen approved conferral of the PJM on British citizens in January 2006.

Why the London Gazette applies to eligible private citizens enabling the majority to wear their PJM

“The new policy applies to awards already conferred as well as to any which may be bestowed upon United Kingdom private citizens in the future.”


“Crown servants who have retired may not take advantage of the new policy in regard to awards conferred upon them during their official life time.”

Why we must take into account the MoD Defence Instruction and Notice 10-002 of January 2006


In correspondence over two years regarding the PJM, no Government Department has referred to the 1969 Regulations or even hinted at its relevance to the PJM. One can only surmise why they should they wish to do so now.

The Cabinet Office have had to rely on defunct Regulations and on just one guidance provision within them - a provision that is not relevant to the PJM which is a medal that has already been approved for acceptance by The Queen.

Turning to the explanation of those who created the Gazette Notice at the time, the Cabinet Office have not only changed the recommendation of the contemporaneous Committee and Government Departments, they have actually reversed it. Yet in their “full statement”, and on many previous occasions when trying to defend the 5-year myth, they say that is something they will never do.

The fact of the matter is that the recommendation to the Queen sought Her approval for the medal to be accepted. Once Her Majesty approved acceptance, the PJM fell within the auspices of the London Gazette Notice. If that was not the intention, the recommendation should not have been put before The Queen.

The London Gazette Notice is extant, applies to the PJM, and applies to British citizens who were private citizens on the 31 January 2006 when The Queen approved acceptance of the medal.

As a consequence of the above, it is our firm view that those not “in their official life time” on the 31 st January 2006 have the Queen’s approval to wear their PJM on formal occasions.

[10th April 2007]

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We do understand that yet another paper on the matter of the PJM – and one that is nine pages long – may seem one paper too many on an issue on which the civil service claim to have issued their final statement (there is no such thing). But please bear with us while we explain how a few civil servants have seriously misled you and, in so doing our case, have maliciously represented our case, a case we put forward on behalf of 35,000 British Malaya-Borneo veterans.

We would also underline that this is not the first time civil servants have behaved like this to deny ordinary men and women the acknowledgement they deserve. Indeed, they have a “long-established” track-record. That is what is so sad about this latest example of civil service obduracy and obfuscation … we’ve seen it all before.

But, those previous cases of medallic ‘injustice’ were reversed after people like you took the time and trouble to read papers like this that rebut what is being said and done in your name.

The Cabinet Office ‘Full Statement”

On the 12 March, Commonwealth Day, the Cabinet Office issued a ‘full statement’ when justifying why they would not change the Ministerial Statement which purports to withhold formal permission for the PJM to be worn.

Their paper is full of half-truths, and is notable more for what it has omitted than for what it contains. Over 50% of their ‘full statement’ has little to do with the case – and has everything to do with creating a false and misleading picture.

We submit that the paper is a deliberate attempt to mislead MPs, MSPs, interested parties and British veterans. In the following notes we summarise why we believe readers have not received the full and even-handed explanation that they are entitled to expect from civil servants. We are very happy to have our case, and everything we say in this paper, put under independent scrutiny – but not by the civil servants whom we no longer trust.

The Commonwealth Perspective

The ‘full statement’ does not even bother to address this fundamental issue. To have done so would have been to demonstrate the anti-Commonwealth and divisive nature of the discredited PJM recommendation.

The Official Position – HMG or The Queen – Which is it?

The statement quotes the official position as being “All British citizens require permissionfrom HMG to accept and wear foreign state awards”.

The HD Committee

The Cabinet Office statement accuses veterans – all, not some or a few – of questioning the integrity of the HD Committee.

We condemn this accusation for what it is – a crude ploy that has back-fired, and one that does them no credit at all.

Readers should not be led into believing that this Committee actually sits down to consider these issues in debate between themselves. We were told on several occasions that the HD Committee ‘met’ on the 6 th December 2006. Only after prolonged questioning did the civil servants change their tune and say that the HD Committee did not meet – in fact it seldom meets.

The Malaysian High Commission

In order to support its position, the statement actually brings in the Malaysian High Commission as if they were a silent party to the flawed PJM recommendation!

The PJM - A Sub-Standard Medal

We were appalled that the statement should underline that the civil servants consider the PJM as sub-standard.

Wear the PJM if you want to – “it is not policed”

Having gone to great lengths to prevent the PJM being worn, and to great cost in defending that indefensible recommendation, we are invited to wear the PJM if we want to because such wear by civilians “is not policed”!

Any inducement to do anything just because “it is not policed” is simply not acceptable in our society.

Where will such inducements end? Are we being urged to go out and commit misdemeanours that are not policed?

Foreign Decoration Rules

More obfuscation. The statement refers time and time again to the long-standing nature of the 5-year myth.

The PJM and Formal Permission

The statement reiterates the 5-year rule as the “primary” grounds for withholding formal permission to wear the PJM.

More on the ‘Myth’ of the 5-Year Rule

Yet again the statement latches on to a myth in an attempt at brainwashing the reader:

The Myth of the Double Medal Rule

The statement omits reference to the many double medals we have quoted that break this rule.

The Malta 50 th Anniversary Medal – A Double Medal issued 50 Years after the Events

The ‘full statement’ purports to go into detail about having considered all similar awards when assessing the PJM.

The 42 other Foreign Medals

Reading the statement one could be forgiven for believing that the matter of Foreign Medals being accepted for wear consists of a few exceptions to a general principle that such medals would not be accepted.

Other Malaysian medals are mentioned to brainwash the reader

Here they bring in a smokescreen to try and cover a story that does not hang together.

But those medals do raise an important issue that might in part explain their obduracy over the PJM.

Military Operations in Malaysia 1957 – 1966

More callous and misleading ploys. Why does the statement produce one paragraph in bold type – a paragraph that has absolutely nothing to do with the PJM?

Those who prepared this Statement know full well that we have never asked for eligibility for British Campaign Medals to be re-examined. Why should we? They have nothing to do with the PJM which is a Foreign Commemorative Medal.

They have raised this aspect in order to try and mislead the reader into thinking we had a wider agenda and were gong-chasing. They have done this before on the Internet, calling us “disaffected veterans” seeking new medals for past service.

This is a blatant attempt to undermine the reader’s confidence in British veterans. It is a shameful act but, unhappily, is totally consistent with so many others. They have brought themselves and the British Honours System into disrepute.

Misleading and carefully selected but inappropriate ‘comparisons’

The statement attempts to confuse and mislead the reader into believing that the PJM exception was in line with similar medals.


The ‘full statement’ makes a mockery of our case by knowingly misrepresenting issues we raised – and purposefully omitting others. The statement admits that in one critical area the Committee focused on just two of our many points.

In both instances, their carefully crafted words and irrelevant explanations are designed to camouflage their inability to actually address the points we raised.

We are appalled if the civil servants brief the HD Committee in this way. If this has happened, we charge those civil servants with knowingly misleading the HD Committee by misrepresenting our case to them.

Dual Nationality

The statement purports to answer our simple question – does a person with Dual Nationality have formal permission to wear their PJM? But it does not.

The MoD did not want to check service records

Is there a simple explanation for the lengths the civil servants have gone to to try and prevent the PJM receiving formal permission to be worn?

This is not the first time this has happened. In 1994, The Times newspaper reported:

“… foreign medals awarded for services dating back more than five years could not be approved by Whitehall because of the difficulty of checking through war records to see who was eligible.”

So there you have another reason why a 5-year rule has been invoked to deny a medal – a reason that the ‘full statement’ makes no mention of.

Correspondence between civil servants and campaigners

The statement says “The quantity of this correspondence has meant that it has not been possible to reply to every letter or email”.

Support for our case

We have said that the support we have for our case should be taken into account:

But they have not addressed this aspect in their ‘full statement’ as we asked them to do.


Ours is a simple case but the Cabinet Office ‘full statement’ actually avoids addressing it!

Our case is that the Ministerial Statement was based upon inappropriate and erroneous advice leading to the situation whereby (allegedly) two ‘rules’ were waived to enable a medal to be received but immediately invoked to withhold permission for the medal to be worn by British veterans, and only the British within the Commonwealth forces that served Malaysia. That is incongruous, snubs both Malaysia and British Malaya-Borneo veterans, and has no place in today’s society.

Our case (that the advice from civil servants was inappropriate and erroneous and so the Ministerial Statement should be amended) is supported by the London Gazette Notice of the 3 rd May 1968. This Notice gives eligible private citizens the right to wear the PJM. No mention of that Notice has ever been made – but the Cabinet Office has now been forced to acknowledge its existence.

That Notice is extant. And we are pleased. Not just for ourselves but for Malaysia and its people, and for those we left behind. The PJM can be worn on formal occasions by eligible British citizens, alongside their Commonwealth friends – however frustrating that may be for the few civil servants who are trying to say otherwise.

It is our view that that permission should now be extended to everyone – including the few who were still in Crown Service when The Queen approved acceptance of the medal in January 2006. Anything short of this removes the ‘Honour’ from the Honours System.

Finally, we await the promised review of the Foreign Decorations system – it is well overdue. We hope to be actively involved in providing information to the review panel and will make all our records available including the 500 pages copied from the National Archives that support what we say and that tell the sorry story of a British Honours system that is a complete shambles – a ‘system’ mismanaged with intent, and in secret, by a small group of civil servants. As the Second Sea Lord said only this week, longstanding rules need to be looked at in the light of modern society and its expectations. The British Foreign Decorations Rules review should be the first.

[10 April 2007]

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