Two high court judges ruled the passage of time has made it impossible to establish whether 24 rubber plantation workers were shot in "deliberate executions," The Guardian reported.
"Most of the contemporary documents are missing and most of those who were engaged are dead. Nor, in our view, would it be any easier to determine whether the use of force was reasonable or proportionate," the judges said in their decision.
The Batang Kali killings, carried out by Scots Guards while British troops were fighting Communist insurgents in Malaysia, have been investigated three times, once immediately after they occurred, again in the early 1970s and once more in the mid-1990s. Relatives of the victims say the first two were coverups and the Conservative government in power during the third did its best to thwart the probe.
John Halford, a lawyer representing the victims, said the decision will be appealed.
"Though the court found the government did not need to hold an inquiry on technical grounds, the fact is that the Scots Guards shot innocent civilians, my father included," said Lim Kok, one of the plaintiffs in the case.
Last year, the high court ruled Kenyan victims of the massacres in that country could sue for damages.