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Statement from Martyn Day given before today's Mau Mau hearing

Statement given by Martyn Day before the start of today's hearing into claims against the British Government by Kenyan Mau Mau victims.

16 July 2012

Statement by Martyn Day, Senior Partner, Leigh Day & Co, solicitors for the Kenyan Claimants:

"The history of what happened to the Mau Mau in Kenya during the 1950s at the hands of the British is a very sorry and distressing tale. It is however a tale that has to be told, if we as the British people are to learn from the mistakes of the past.

For our four Kenyan clients, all victims of torture and abuse, they have been waiting for this day for a long time. We are pleased for them that at long last they have their chance to give their evidence to the Court.

It has been disappointing that the British Government has tried every technical legal manoeuvre available in an effort to try and prevent the stories of our clients reaching the Courts. We do not suggest for a second that the Government is not legally entitled to make such arguments but if there was ever a case when the Government’s moral responsibility should take precedence then this is it.

Sadly, one the four Claimants has died since the case was started, as have many others who could have brought claims since they were first brought in 2009.

Our clients are elderly with likely few years left to live. Two of them are in their mid 80s.

Albeit, if their claims are successful at trial their claims would be worth very considerable sums, what primarily our elderly Kenyans clients want is an apology for the abuse they were subjected to and to be able to live out the final years of their lives with a degree of dignity. From the start they have offered to resolve their case if the Government is willing to address their concerns but to date the door has been firmly shut in their face.

If the Government continues to refuse to open its doors to such discussions they have instructed us to fight on come what may. They are determined to obtain justice.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has today firmly called on the British Government to deal with these elderly victims of torture with the dignity, compassion and magnanimity that they deserve.

We leave the door open to the British Government to meet with us to resolve this claim even at this 11th hour.

The Court has already rejected the Government’s attempt to argue that they cannot be held liable for these abuses. Now we are confident that it will reject the Government’s latest technical argument, that the claims are time barred.

We are confident that justice will be done."

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