Saying it wanted to turn a page in UK relations with Cyprus, the British government settled civil law claims brought by EOKA veterans seeking compensation on grounds of torture during the 1955-1959 insurgency, but did not admit liability.
In a written ministerial statement to the House of Commons, Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Sir Alan Duncan said the British government would pay £1 million in damages. Legal costs would be determined at a future date.
The case, regarding their treatment in detention was brought in July 2015, by 35 individuals (since reduced to 33).
“The UK Government has now reached an agreement with the claimants, in full and final settlement of those claims,” the British government said in a written statement earlier on Wednesday.
“The settlement does not constitute any admission of liability and is not a precedent in respect of any potential future claims against the Government: the passage of time means that it is now no longer possible to establish all of the facts with certainty.”
And it added: “The Government has settled the case in order to draw a line under this litigation, avoid the further escalation of costs, and to focus firmly on the future in its relations with Cyprus.”
In reaching this settlement, the UK Government reaffirmed its highest respect for the memory and sacrifice of British and Cypriot service personnel and employees of the Crown who gave their lives, who lost family members or loved ones, or whose lives suffered permanent disruption as a result of the Emergency.
The statement also “acknowledges the strongly held views of many Cypriots about the Emergency” and concludes that “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”.
The statement stresses the importance of learning from the past, but also looking to the future.
“Today, the bilateral relationship that the UK shares with Cyprus is one of friendship and close partnership; spanning a broad network of security, personal, business, administrative, cultural and educational ties. The UK Government reaffirms its commitment to building a modern, forward-looking relationship between the UK and Cyprus, built on shared values of mutual respect and full equality,” it said.
High Commissioner Stephen Lillie said: “This is an important milestone in our bilateral relationship. I know there are many strongly held views about the final years of British rule in Cyprus. We recognise and respect that. But now we must look to the future.
“UK-Cyprus relations are at the highest level they have ever been, and there is scope for expanding those links even further in the coming years. The UK is committed to building a modern, forward-looking relationship with Cyprus, built on shared values of mutual respect and full equality.”