Putney Pensioner In High Court Accused Of Mau Mau Torture

Unable to defend himself as he suffers from Alzheimer’s

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80 year old Terence Gavaghan, was awarded the MBE for his work during the Mau Mau rebellion between 1952 - 1960 but is now in court accused of torture. The rebellion involved a Kikuyu dominated anti-colonial group called the Mau Mau and elements of the British Army, auxiliaries and anti-Mau Mau Kikuyu.

Four Kenyan pensioners have brought a representative suit in which they seek damages, compensation and a “statement of regret” from the British Government for the atrocities the British committed against Kenyans between 1952 and 1961. Wambugu We Nyingi has told the court that he was a prisoner for nine years without charge and within those years he was taken to a British Camp in which Mr Gavaghan was an officer.

Documents have been produced that states that upon arrival at the camp 'Immediately, he was beaten with 25 stokes of the cane which caused him to lose consciousness.' It continues ‘After this for five days Gavaghan made the detainees, including Mr Nyingi, dig trenches to a depth and width of eight feet. They would then be required to fill them up again, rendering the work pointless.' A separate document claims Mr Gavaghan once watched as  Mr Nyingi was given 72 strokes of the cane.

Mr Gavaghan had denied accusations of torture before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s took hold. He remembered losing control just on one occasion, his guards were grappling with a man who had ‘adopted the plasticine doll technique’ of falling about if pushed. Partly to associate myself with the frustration of the others, I hit him back-handed across the face, ripping my knuckles on his teeth.’

He continued:
‘We used compelling force because it was necessary in that situation. We never used punitive force. We were Her Majesty’s Overseas Civil Servants and the very suggestion of it is degrading.

April 11, 2011