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Torture payout claim at High Court

A historic compensation claim by a group of elderly Kenyans over alleged human rights abuses by the British in the colonial era is due to take place at London's High Court.

The claimants, who are in their 70s and 80s, are flying from their rural homes to give evidence before Mr Justice McCombe in a bid to stop the case being thrown out.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which denies all liability, wants the judge to "strike out" the test case on the basis that the Kenyan Government is legally responsible for any abuses as all liabilities were transferred to the Kenyan Republic upon independence in 1963.

Lawyers Leigh Day & Co claim that the four representative lead cases were victims of grave acts of torture - including castration and severe sexual assault - by British officials in camps during the Mau Mau Uprising between 1952 and 1961.

Their claims are being supported by the Kenyan Government and the Kenya Human Rights Commission which has said that 90,000 Kenyans were executed, tortured or maimed during the uprising, with 160,000 detained.

The hearing is expected to last at least eight days.

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