Belfast Telegraph

Ministers face inquiry calls as Troubles files 'vanish' from archives

Ministers are facing calls for an investigation following a report that thousands of government papers - including ones relating to Northern Ireland - have vanished.

Most of the papers went missing after civil servants removed the files concerned from public display at the archives at Kew, west London, and took them back to Whitehall, according to The Guardian.

Records covering the Falklands War, the Troubles and the infamous Zinoviev letter - when MI6 officers apparently conspired to bring down the first Labour government - are among those said to have been misplaced.

In all, almost 1,000 files - each believed to contain dozens of papers - are reported to have been affected.

They include an entire file on the Zinoviev letter which was reported to have been lost after being taken from the archives by civil servants at the Home Office.

On another occasion, Foreign Office officials were reported to have removed a "small number" of papers from a file on the 1978 killing of the dissident Bulgarian journalist Georgi Markov who was shot in the leg with a tiny ricin pellet while crossing Waterloo Bridge.

While most of the papers were believed to have been found and returned to the archives, "a couple" were still said to be lost

Others listed by the archive as "misplaced while on loan to government department" were said to include files on the activities of the Communist Party of Great Britain during the Cold War and the seizure of Russian government funds held in British banks after the 1917 revolution.

For Labour, shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said: "The 'loss' of documents about controversial periods in history is unacceptable.

"The British people deserve to know what the government has done in their name and their loss will only fuel accusations of a cover-up.

"These important historical documents may be a great loss to history, and their disappearance must urgently be investigated."

A Government spokesperson said: "The National Archives regularly sends lists to government departments of files that they have out on loan.

"If we are notified that a file is missing, we do ask what actions have been done and what action is being taken to find the file."

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, said he was deeply concerned and that victims of human rights abuses in Northern Ireland "had a right to full disclosure of what happened to them and their loved ones".

He said: "Accountability and justice demand that these files are among the evidence available to families, judges and historians in determining the truth of what happened here during three decades of violence.

"Theresa May must order a government-wide search for these 'lost' files and their restoration to their rightful place in the archives at Kew."

Belfast Telegraph

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph