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Japanese captive fights for justice over compensation.

Byline: CHRIS SMITH Daily Post Correspondent

A MAN taken captive by the Japanese in World War II is fighting for compensation denied to him because he is ``not British enough''.

Retired accountant Peter Hall, 70, spent four years of his childhood in a Hong Kong camp and his family lost their home and business.

His great-grandfather had settled in Hong Kong after serving a tour of duty with the Merchant Navy and succeeding generations were born in the colony.

Yet, despite his father fighting in the war and three uncles losing their lives in the conflict, Mr Hall has been denied compensation.

In 2000, the Government decreed that all British Citizens who were taken captive were entitled to pounds 10,000 compensation from the War Pensions Agency.

Mr Hall, from Heswall, Wirral, is stepping up his fight for justice after four years of wrangling over the issue.

He said: ``My brother worked for the Ministry of Defence for most of his life and even he has been denied the payments.

``My father fought against the Japanese in the war and three of my uncles were killed, but apparently this isn't enough to entitle me to compensation.

``I'll keep fighting because the Government needs to be embarrassed about this.

``I wrote to Tony Blair on my 70th birthday. I asked him for a personal meeting because I want to meet him to explain why this injustice is not acceptable.

``All I got was a form of reply from his office staff. I don't believe Mr Blair understands what is going on.''

Mr Hall added that he and his family were about to be executed when the atom bomb brought an end to World War II.

``As a seven-year-old boy, in 1941, I remember we were taken to a civilian camp and kept in inhumane conditions.

``Because my father was asoldier, he was separated from us and taken to a military camp.

``The food was terrible and it was a miracle we survived the ordeal and there was no schooling allowed, despite many teachers being held prisoner.

``If it wasn't for the atom bomb we would have all been murdered because the minister in Japan was about to order all PoWs to be executed.

``We returned to our house after the surrender in 1945 to find the place had been completely looted.

``The Japanese had even taken the steel frames from our windows.

``We had lost everything.'' British citizens in Hong Kong lost everything when they were interned by the Japanese and moved to ``inhumane'' labour camps following the 1941 invasion.

But compensation is being denied to more than 700 applicantsbecause, campaigners say, bureaucrats have moved the goalposts on qualification and more than 700 people have seen their applications rebuffed.

They claim the Ministry of Defence has told those whose parents or grandparents were not born on British soil they are not entitled to the cash.

The Association of British Civilian Internees Far East Region (Abcifer) has accused Mr Blair of breaking his promise and betraying the internees.

Abcifer secretary Brian Gander said: ``Tony Blair had originally promised that all civilian internees would be compensated to the tune of pounds 10,000.

``But we believe the MoD were surprised by the amount of applications they received and moved the goalposts to save themselves some cash.

``This is a betrayal of around 700 people who were taken captive because they were British.

``They all had British passports. ``Now, all of a sudden, they're saying people aren't British enough to qualify for the compensation.''

War Pensions Agency spokeswoman Val Brown confirmed that many applicants had been asked to verify their family history before receiving payment.

She said: ``No one has yet been rejected with regard to not being British.

``We are seeking further guidance from central government into a number of cases where the criteria referring to nationality is in doubt.

She added: ``The guidance we have had is that they themselves, their parents or their grandparents must have a blood link back to the UK

CAPTION(S):

Peter Hall, who is not being treated like other British captives of the Japanese; Picture: MERCURY PRESS
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Mar 2, 2005
Words:691
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