Hammond sorry for Arctic convoy gaffe

DEFENCE Secretary Philip Hammond was yesterday forced to apologise for comments made by one of his junior ministers comparing Second World War heros with Col Gaddafi and Saddam Hussain’s henchmen and North Korean generals.

Veterans minister Andrew Robathan made the comments disparaging calls for veterans of the Arctic convoys to the Soviet Union in the Second World War to be awarded a medal. Mr Hammond said: “The role of the convoys is well known and if any offence has been caused I deeply regret that.”

Mr Robathan said of their claim: “Authoritarian regimes and dictators, such as Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein, often throw medals around. North Korean generals are covered with medal ribbons. We have taken the view medals will be awarded only for campaigns that show risk and rigour.”