London’s High Court ruled that despite the time elapsed, the legal claims relating to the 1950s Mau Mau uprising can proceed. The case will now go to a full trial.

Lawyers for the three hailed it as a “historic” judgement.

While the government accepts that UK forces tortured detainees it denies liability and will appeal against the decision.

Thousands of people were killed during the Mau Mau revolt against British rule in Kenya.The government had initially argued that all liabilities for the torture by colonial authorities were transferred to the Kenyan Republic upon independence in 1963 and that it could not be held liable now.

But last year, the High Court ruled that claimants – Paulo Muoka Nzili, Wambuga Wa Nyingi and Jane Muthoni Mara had “arguable cases in law”.

After the 2011 ruling, the case went back to the High Court in July because the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the actions had been brought outside the legal time limit. This has now been discounted.

The claimant’s lawyers claim that Mr Nzili was castrated, Mr Nyingi was severely beaten and Mrs Mara was subjected to appalling sexual abuse in detention camps during the rebellion.