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The Foreign Office (FO) has referred the decision about whether the UK should make a claim against Japan to compensate former prisoners of war (PoWs) to the Government's most senior lawyers, the Attorney General and Solicitor General.
Leigh Day & Co senior partner Martyn Day, acting for the ex-PoWs, wants the FO to seek independent legal advice on whether the UK should claim to compensate 10,000 ex-PoWs and civilian internees under article 26 of the 1951 Peace Treaty with Japan.
FO minister Derek Fatchett told Day last week he would refer the issue to the Attorney General, John Morris, and Solicitor General, Ross Cranston - a minor victory itself for the campaign.
However, Fatchett told Day that FO lawyers opposed an article 26 action. He said the Government could not make a claim because of repeated parliamentary statements since the 1950s that Japan had resolved its responsibilities.
Day says: "That is absolutely ridiculous. The claims that were made in Parliament were erroneous because the Government could have claimed.
"It is the British Government's fault this mess happened and if they won't claim they should pay the compensation themselves."