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Old 19th June 2011, 10:44
Observer1940 Observer1940 is offline
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13 Million UK Military Files Withheld Back to WW1

I have been told by the PRO / TNA in the past that if files such as Ships Books (Naval Air Stations had a Ships Book) and other Military files (extremely useful for the aviation researcher too) are not in the PRO / TNA then they have not survived?

According to a 10th May 2007 newspaper report in the Nuneaton Weekly Tribune Twenty (20) Million items, 13 Million of which are files were being withheld by the MoD back to WW1 in 2007.

Regarding the UK Military Records Office, Hansard 20 Oct 2004: Column 272WH (discovered during a normal search engine search), says that during the first 9 months of the indexing process at Hayes before the transfer to Swadlincote, 6 million records had already been indexed. Column 269WH refers to about 12 million at the Hayes site requiring to be indexed onto a database.

It makes one wonder, what is being withheld and why the PRO / TNA made those statements?

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Old 19th June 2011, 23:24
Andy Saunders Andy Saunders is offline
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Re: 13 Million UK Military Files Withheld Back to WW1


Your posts are certainly enlightening. The volume of archived material still held but not available in the public domain never ceases to amaze me.

Unless I am misunderstanding something here, or unless the newspaper reportage is incorrect, do I take it that this gentleman just applied to TNT to see the records that interested him and his request was granted by TNT? Presumably this request must have first been channelled through the MOD?

Might I just add that if the same "test" had been applied then to documents released by the RAF/Air Ministry/MOD to TNA (PRO) years ago that is being applied now, I rather suspect much of what we have available at Kew today would not be there and would never be released.
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Old 20th June 2011, 07:30
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Re: 13 Million UK Military Files Withheld Back to WW1

Very interesting, all files I have noted was some files in IWM and always wonder where bulk of material were held as well.
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Old 20th June 2011, 13:46
Observer1940 Observer1940 is offline
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Re: 13 Million UK Military Files Withheld Back to WW1

Hello Andy, 'Pilot' and Others

Andy you should have an email direct via your 1940history email?

I believe this local chap could give an account about how he saved the documents of his ship HMS Medway and the Nuneaton Weekly Tribune newspaper explains how he made contact, I believe via the Royal Navy Museum.

People apparently also write to TNT Archives Swadlincote direct and the TNA, Kew webpages previously had the TNT address amongst the many pages of their website, although one enquiry of mine was passed back to the MoD.

The test for 1940 files, that is an interesting question?

It is my belief that the test is probably now tighter since MoD took more control of the old Hayes Archive. The Hayes Archive was a half way house and called the "Intermediate Repository" between the Government Department (MoD) and the then PRO (now TNA) to satisfy the 30 Year Rule. Some PRO Staff previously worked at the old Hayes Archive and therefore had more direct involvement with the records there until the MoD took control back in the 1990s according to an article written by a PRO Record Manager who worked there.

Although complete files with the Minute [index] Sheet were released in 1971, I don't think some similar 1940 files, would be released now.

Regarding the test for release into the public domain, one of the RAF ORBs regarding countermeasures has varying gaps of differing sizes in the typed text on a number of pages and it would never have been written like that in 1940 with paper being at a premium. I suspect to release this ORB to the PRO as a public record, the ORB was likely retyped and where the varying gaps are, is representing the missing redacted text.

Files go before MoD Reviewers some called Sensitivity Reviewers, the test as you know also involves whether they are likely to cause distress to people alive now, or involve references to national security, or name Military Intelligence officials (as I understand MI names should not be released), with some Reviewers photocopying the page, blanking out the name and re-photocopying the page and substituting this for the original page.

A previous Case was held at the Royal Courts of Justice in 1999/2000 allowed the release of a Court of Inquiry into a 1942 accident and only the names and addresses of the Witnesses were withheld. This was used as a Test, but I was an individual against a huge machine with 3 Solicitors!

The MoD stated they could not find the file or pieces I requested and therefore presumed it had been destroyed. A previous case against the ICO established that the ICO and MoD could fall back on a previous 'Balance of Probabilities' decision in Bromley v the Information Commissioner and the Environment Agency which stated "there can seldom be absolute certainty that information relevant to a request does not remain undiscovered somewhere within a public authoritiy's records".

If you cannot access the Archive or its database, or there is no index, then you cannot provide the required proof that the document is held, or even where the document is held when there are several places of deposit.

There were no destruction lists confirming destruction.

I also don't think we are going to see Air Force aircraft accidents in any detail due to Navigation which were caused by our Masking/Meaconing, or Jamming, due to the Security section in the 1958 Public Record Act.

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