Ministry of Defence officials have agreed to meet lawyers representing Kenyan tribespeople who claim they and their families have been injured by live shells left lying around their villages by the British Army.
The meeting, on Friday, will be the first formal face-to-face contact between the MoD and London solicitor Martyn Day, representing about 50 members of the Masai and Samburu tribes who are suing the Army for up to £10m. Mr Day said he was "optimistic" that the meeting would lead to the MoD offering to reach a settlement.
The Army has staged manoeuvres in Kenya for 50 years and locals say that, in that time, unexploded ordnance left in the exercise areas has been responsible for more than 200 accidents and 100 fatalities, most of them involving children.
Former commando David Taylor, who recently visited the Archer's Post and Dol Dol ranges in Kenya after an Army clean-up operation, said he had found live ammunition bearing British identification marks.
He told the BBC Radio 4 programme You and Yours: "The implication therefore is that British munitions will have been responsible for a significant proportion, and possibly all, of deaths and injuries caused by shell explosions in the Archer's Post and Dol Dol areas."
An MoD spokesman confirmed a meeting was due to take place but stressed this did not imply that the Army accepted any legal liability. "The training areas we used are also used by the Kenyans. Safety, as far as we are concerned, is one of the prime functions both here and overseas," he said.Reuse content