12:55, May 21 61 0 theguardian.com

2019-05-21 12:55:05
Judge dismissed Kenyans’ claims

What Bryan Cox and Mary Ruck (Letters, 20 May) do not tell your readers about the claims for compensation by the Kenyan litigants they represented was that they were all dismissed by the judge, Sir Peter Stewart, after one of the longest trials in British legal history – 230 hearing days spread over four years. He concluded that the passage of time since the alleged ill-treatment was so great that it was impossible for the crown to mount a meaningful defence, especially in the absence of virtually any corroborative evidence.

Nearly all those alleged to have committed the claimed offences were either dead or not traceable. Moreover, almost none of those accused in these 40,000 claims was a member of the British army: policemen and prison warders were the alleged culprits in nearly all cases. Abuses in screening camps were repeatedly investigated at the time, and more than 100 policemen, home guards and prison warders were prosecuted, convicted and jailed. The army had almost nothing to do with screening and detention.

That abuse and torture occurred in the detention system was conceded five years ago when the government settled over 5,000 claims for nearly £20m. When the legal team appealed Mr Justice Stewart’s first verdict in this new litigation, which he delivered last August, the appeal court dismissed their arguments, commending the judge’s masterly analysis of the case details. The judge then dismissed a second test case as hopeless, likening it to setting sail on the ocean in a sieve, and so doomed to failure; and instructed the legal team to abandon all the other claims.

What any of this has to do with the British Army in Northern Ireland is hard to say. However, the relevance of the litigation to the story of the Kenya emergency will be described in the book Mau Mau Interrogator, to be published in the autumn.

David Elstein

London

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