British governments blocked two police investigations into the covering up of the killing by British troops of 24 unarmed rubber plantation workers during counterinsurgency operations in Malaysia nearly 65 years ago, the appeal court heard on Tuesday.This is what empires do: murder people then cover it up to protect their reputation. Britain's empire was no different. And its long past time those responsible for it were held to account.
Relatives of victims who died in the massacre of Batang Kali in December 1948 were in court to hear how soldiers of the Scots Guards had admitted murdering the plantation workers.
The government intervened to stop a Scotland Yard investigation in 1970 after the soldiers' confession. The police officer in charge subsequently complained that the issue was "politically flavoured from the outset". The investigation was stopped because of a "political change of view" when the Conservatives came to power in 1970, the officer said.
The Ministry of Defence said: "If no reaction is forthcoming, the matter will probably now remain buried in the public mind … and quietly forgotten."
An investigation by the Malaysian police in the 1990s, after fresh evidence emerged, was also blocked following intervention by the British government, the appeal court heard.