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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 May, 2003, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Yard investigates Mau Mau 'atrocities'
Kenyan demonstrators
The Mau Maus are fighting for compensation

Scotland Yard is to investigate claims that British officials were responsible for a catalogue of atrocities during the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya 50 years ago.

At the beginning of May, officers from the anti-terrorist branch of the Metropolitan Police began making preliminary inquiries into the claims.

The allegations, made in the BBC's Correspondent programme White Terror last year, include rape, torture, murder and theft of property, in the 1950s, when the Mau Mau movement fought against the colonial power in a battle for land and freedom.

A police spokesman said: "Officers from the anti-terrorist branch are investigating - or making a preliminary assessment - of the information received.

"Inquiries are continuing to see whether there is enough evidence to pursue it - at this stage it is too early to say."

If it decides there is enough evidence to support the claims, a full-scale inquiry will be launched, which may mean officers going out to the east African country.

What went on in the Kenya camps and villages was brutal, savage torture
Former colonial officer John Nottingham

The BBC Correspondent programme claimed more than 6,000 statements have been taken from veterans of the uprising, all claiming human rights abuse.

The programme also claimed murder occurred on a daily basis at the slave labour camp Embakasi, where slaves allegedly built the foundations of Kenya's main airport.

Professor Caroline Elkins of Harvard University told the programme more than 50,000 people could have been killed by British security forces.

If the atrocities prove to be true, the British Government could be liable for vast sums of compensation.


John Nottingham, a district colonial officer during the 50s, stayed on in Kenya after the uprising, told Correspondent that compensation should be paid immediately as most of the victims are now in their 80s.

"What went on in the Kenya camps and villages was brutal, savage torture," he said.

"I feel ashamed to have come from a Britain that did what it did here."

London based human rights law firm Leigh Day has taken up the Mau Mau's case and is seeking legal aid to fight their cause.

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