The Prime Minister appointed Sir John Holmes in April 2012 to conduct an independent review of the policy governing the award of military medals. He issued his report in July 2012, which concluded that the existing guiding principles were reasonably based but that there should be greater readiness to review past decisions. Sir John was therefore commissioned to review independently a number of cases which had been brought to his attention as possible candidates for changed medallic recognition. The aim was to draw a definitive line under issues which in some cases had been controversial for many years, ensuring that consistency and fairness were respected as far as possible, in a context where the judgments are often difficult, but need to be clear and defensible.
This substantial and complex piece of work is now complete. Each of the reviews has been subject to detailed discussion by the Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals and its conclusions submitted for Royal approval. All will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
The outcomes where detailed reviews were carried out are listed in the annex to this statement. Where medallic recognition has been agreed, the Ministry of Defence will issue guidance on how individual claims may be submitted.
Sir John also reviewed the case for a National Defence Medal. An options paper produced by the Cabinet Office will also be placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The Committee on the Grant of Honours, Decorations and Medals is not persuaded that a strong enough case can be made at this time, but has advised that this issue might usefully be reconsidered in the future. In such circumstances, the criteria for the award of a medal would need careful consideration, including length of service, good conduct and the possibility of retrospection. In the meantime, ministers have agreed that the eligibility requirements for the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, which is currently awarded only to other ranks and not to officers, should be harmonised for the future.