'My name has been hijacked': Veteran Gus could return to hunger strike amid money shock

Protesting veteran Gus Hales has alleged a campaign set up in his name was used to raise money without his knowledge, and said he may resume his hunger strike to continue highlighting care for veterans.

Gus Hales
Gus Hales

It comes days before he was due to visit London for a meeting with the Veterans Under Secretary Tobias Ellwood.

Mr Hales, who was on strike in Audley Avenue in Newport for weeks in late 2018, said he was "shocked" to learn a social media page named after him was used to collect money for another organisation.

He also alleged he has heard threats of violence in the course of his protest.

Mr Hales said he has now taken control of the page, but to "re-instate the integrity" of his campaign he said he may walk away completely, or even resume his hunger strike in Newport.

He was protesting outside Combat Stress, and received an apology for the way he was discharged from the organisation's care in the past.

In a post on the social media profile with more than 3,000 followers on Monday, Mr Hales said he had had no involvement with the page until recently.

He said: "I had no control of the site. I gave it no thought, my attention was elsewhere.

"However, people surrounded me while I was on hunger strike, people who I thought had integrity.

"Little did I know that this Facebook page was being steered in a different direction.

'Dissociate'

"Having taken control of this page some ten days ago and removing others from the administration of this site, it has shocked me that my name has been used to collect money, steer this page towards another organisation."

He went on to say: "I dissociate from anything posted on this site prior to Saturday December 29."

Mr Hales said he now suffers health problems as a result of his hunger strike.

He plans to meet Mr Ellwood - Under Secretary of State for Defence People and Veterans - in Parliament this week to discuss testimonials from other veterans with experience of Combat Stress.

In his Facebook post he continued: "I now feel I have three choices to re-instate the integrity of this action and to be true to my own convictions.

"One, to walk away, finish, go back to my previous life, recover my health and rest in mindfulness and enjoy life. This will not be a problem, I feel I have no attachment to this cause, other than to see an injustice corrected.

"Two, go back on a 10-day hunger strike and attempt to bring the attention back to the plight of so many suffering people, if this is what is required then so be it.

"Three, to be assured by supporters that they have understood the level of integrity that must go with this action and that any supporters fully understand my reasons for total separation and dissociation from any other organisation."

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