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Lawyers react angrily to Government appeal in Mau Mau case

Lawyers for three elderly Kenyans have reacted angrily to the decision by The British government to appeal a high court ruling

Mau Mau torture victims outside court (photo: The Times)

20 December 2012

Lawyers for three elderly Kenyans have reacted angrily to the decision by The British government to appeal a high court ruling, given in October 2012, that paved the way for them to claim damages for torture they suffered at the hands of the British during the fight for Kenyan independence.

Dan Leader from law firm Leigh Day & Co, which is representing the three Kenyans, told the Observer newspaper:

"There were unspeakable acts of torture committed by the British colony and the British Government are still maintaining that, even though this is British torture, they are not legally liable because they say it's too late in the day to pin the legal liability on London.

"This is a morally repugnant argument, because they have admitted British torture but are seeking to rely on a technicality."

At an earlier hearing Foreign Office lawyers admitted all three Kenyans were tortured by British colonial authorities and in October, the High Court rejected the British Government’s attempt to strike out the claims of the three Kenyan victims of British Colonial torture on the grounds that the claims were time barred.

The Judge, Mr Justice McCombe ruled that “…a fair trial on this part of the case does remain possible and that the evidence on both sides remains significantly cogent for the Court to complete its task satisfactorily”

The Judge also made reference to the ‘Hanslope archive’ of secret documents, stating that the ‘lost’ archive of some 8,800 files ‘filled in the gaps’ in the knowledge of both parties making a fair trial possible.

It was the second time in two years that the British Government has lost in its efforts to use legal technicalities to have the case against it thrown out.

Martyn Day, senior partner at Leigh Day said: “Despite these two overwhelming judgments against its arguments the Government now intends to appeal this latest decision, prolonging the agony for those who suffered such indescribable acts of torture.”

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