The Lincoln Plawg - the blog with footnotes
Saturday, September 27, 2003
Kenya rape shakedown hits a snag
A cautionary tale on the need for vigilance where truth and moral hazard are in play.
A British lawyer called Martyn Day has been organising a lawsuit against the UK MOD (that is, Hapless Hoon's outfit) on behalf of a large number of Kenyan women who say they were raped by members of HM Forces in Kenya on manoeuvres. According to a piece in the Guardian today , the total sum he was seeking was around $15m. (Quite what his cut would be is not discussed.)
However, rather than roll over, the MOD put in a forensic team to examine the police records; and found them all to be forgeries!
Now, anyone paying the slightest attention to the evidence at the Hutton Inquiry would understand that the MOD's playing fast and loose with the truth would not be an altogether new experience. I'm rather thinking, though, that the information would not have been released unless the evidence of forgery was clearly able to stand up to judicial scrutiny.
And the Kenyan record for bribery and corruption is legendary. The Kenya branch of Transparency International produced a report (c750KB PDF) in 2001 which (based on a survey) rated in a Bribery Index the incidence of corruption in various government institutions (p10a): the Kenya Police come top of the list with 68.7 out of a hundred . A separate table on the same page shows a 90.4% incidence of bribery in the Kenya Police; that is (p11a)
...the likelihood of obtaining satisfactory service from [the Kenya Police] without paying a bribe is less than 10%...
A further table (p11a) shows that 57.5% of those surveyed said they had paid bribes to the Kenya Police, or suffered from not paying such bribes.
In a TI Corruption Perceptions Index (2002) Kenya ranked joint 96th out of 102 .
So, is the rape business a scam dreamt up by local chiselers to guilt Whitey into handing over moolah, with rakeoffs for the KP and the (no doubt) many other officials who had assisted in the project? According to the article, Martyn Day is no neophyte when it comes to suing the MOD on behalf of Kenyan claimants:
Mr Day began documenting the rape allegations after concluding a successful compensation campaign on behalf of Kenyan farmers killed or maimed by ordnance left on two nearby British army firing ranges. The MoD paid £4.5m in an out-of-court settlement to injured and bereaved Samburu and Masai herders but did not admit responsibility for any ordnance left lying on the ranges, which it shares with the Kenyan army.
Rumours have since circulated in northern Kenya that many of those claims were fraudulent with penniless herders awarded sums of up to £250,000 for injuries allegedly caused by wild animals and domestic accidents.
The background is the period of colonial rule in general, and the Mau-Mau terror campaign in particular. Whilst the politics of Mau-Mau were complex and dynamic , the left-liberal perception is of some kind of colonial holocaust (a legend on a par with that of Winston Churchill having the army fire on striking miners in Tonypandy in 1910. )
Labour pin-up  turned battleaxe Barbara Castle and others made a fuss about some rough treatment of prisoners at Hola Camp in 1959, which has come to stand as the representative pink factoid for colonial Kenya , guaranteed to be in the crib-notes of at least one lefty talk-show caller whenever the subject of the British Empire can be shoehorned into the discussion !
Since the sums asked in the current Kenyan case are chicken-feed in relation to total UK government spending, and the asymmetry of means between plaintiffs and defendants makes for tough PR, one could not blame the MOD for rolling over. However, it seems the spirit of Rorke's Drift may not quite have disappeared...
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