Sycamore 284 Squadron helicopter flies over Cyrpus mountains
Cyprus

Government Agrees £1m Settlement With Cypriots Who Say They Were Tortured

Claimants say they were tortured during the “Emergency” in the 1950s when Cyprus was a British colony.

Sycamore 284 Squadron helicopter flies over Cyrpus mountains

An RAF Sycamore HR.14 during a patrol over Cyprus in 1957 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

The UK is to pay a £1 million settlement to 33 Cypriots who claim they were tortured during British rule in the 1950s.

It is after claims were brought against the Government over the treatment of Cypriots in detention during the campaign to end British rule on the island.

Foreign Office Minister Sir Alan Duncan said the payment relates to the "Emergency" period declared in the former British colony between 1955-1959.

In a written statement to Parliament, Sir Alan said: "The Government has now reached an agreement with the claimants, in full and final settlement of those claims.

"The UK Government has agreed to pay a settlement sum of £1 million in damages, with an amount in legal costs to be determined by the court in due course.

"The settlement does not constitute any admission of liability and is not a precedent in respect of any potential future claims against the Government.

"Indeed, the Government has maintained throughout proceedings that the passage of time means that it is now no longer possible to establish all of the facts with certainty.

Cyprus landscape
Cyprus was a Crown colony between 1925 and 1960.

"However, the Government has settled the case in order to draw a line under this litigation and to avoid the further escalation of costs, which would ultimately be borne by the taxpayer."

Sir Alan said the Government "reaffirms its highest respect for the memory and sacrifice of British and Cypriot service personnel and employees of the crown who gave their lives" as a result of the Emergency.

He added: "It is a matter of regret for the UK Government that the transition of Cyprus from British administration to independence should have been preceded by five years of violence and loss of life, affecting all residents of the island."

Kevin Conroy, the lead solicitor for the claimants, said: "I always believed in this case, as did the many other people who became involved.

"My faith in the clients and in the team I put together to assist the claimants has been vindicated."

Howard Shelley, another solicitor involved in the case, said: "This has been the most interesting and challenging case I have ever been involved in."

The claimants launched their legal battle in 2015.

A Government spokesperson said: "We can confirm that we have agreed an out of court settlement of the claims brought by 33 Cypriots dating from events during the Cyprus Emergency.

"This settlement draws a line under litigation from this period and should reassure veterans that they will not be required to contribute evidence to this litigation.

"The agreement, which is not an admission of liability, also avoids burdening the taxpayer with escalating costs."