Campaigners calling for an official investigation into the massacre of 24 Malaysian rubber plantation workers by British troops more than 60 years ago lost a High Court fight today.
Relatives of the victims challenged a government decision not to hold an inquiry into the shootings at Batang Kali, Malaya, in December 1948.
British troops were conducting operations as part of the Empire against Communist fighters during the so-called Malayan emergency when the plantation workers were killed, judges heard.
Relatives described the killings as "a blot on British colonisation and decolonisation" and said there was enough evidence to justify an independent inquiry.
They asked judges to overturn the government's refusal to hold a formal investigation.
Foreign Secretary William Hague and Defence Secretary Philip Hammond opposed the relatives' application, arguing that the decision not to hold any form of inquiry was reached lawfully.
Solicitor John Halford, who represents relatives, said: "We are appealing. As long as the injustice remains, the families will be pursuing legal action."
He called on ministers to "do the right thing" and "end the ongoing injustices at the heart of this case."
Sir John Thomas, president of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, said: "In our judgement, the decisions of the secretaries of state were ones that took into account the relevant considerations and were not unreasonable.
"In our judgement, they had regard to the relevant factors and weighed them carefully and reached a conclusion which it was plainly open to them to reach."
Responding to the verdict, Chong Koon Yin - whose father Chong Voon was killed - said: "I am disappointed with the finding that no inquiry is required."
At the time of the massacre, then British Communist MP Phil Piratin raised the issue in Parliament.
Communist Party of Britain general secretary Rob Griffiths condemned the court decision.
"The shameful cover up by successive British governments of mass murder in Malaya has been endorsed by the travesty of a high court decision," he told the Star.
"The strategy has been obvious for many years namely to lie, prevaricate and delay till all survivors and immediate family are dead."
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