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Camellia reveals £4.6 million settlement over Kenya human rights abuse claims

Leigh Day brought the claims to court in London. (Getty Images)

Camellia, the British agriculture and engineering firm hit by allegations of human rights abuses on its avocado farming estate in Kenya, said today that it has settled with claimants for up to £4.6 million.

The Kent-based firm has a majority stake in Kakuzi, an avocado farm the size of Manchester that was being sued by law firm Leigh Day on behalf of 79 individuals.

Claims, which dated from 2009 to January 2020, included that the farm's security guards battered a local man to death for stealing avocados, and employees raped 10 women in nearby villages.

Kakuzi had supplied British supermarkets including Sainsbury's, Tesco and Lidl with avocados until all three cut ties after news of the lawsuit emerged last October.

Camellia, which is valued at around £180 million, said in an update that claims it faced at London's High Court "have now been resolved at settlements costing up to £4.6m".

The sum covers "payments for the individual claimants" as well as contribution to their legal fees, and the costs of new safeguarding work - including Kakuzi bringing in independent experts IBIS to conduct a human rights impact assessment of its operations.

Camellia stated that "an innovative and mutually beneficial resolution of all the claims has been reached, without any admission of liability by the companies or by Kakuzi".

It said: "The companies hope that this resolution will clear the path for the investigations into the allegations and, as required, prosecution of any offenders."

The company added that Leigh Day has agreed “not to begin or support” any other claims over Camellia’s Kenya operations “for a substantial period”.

This article was published by the Evening Standard.


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