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Exclusive: Ministry of Defence plans to destroy 156,000 files instead of giving them to the National Archives

THE Ministry of Defence (MoD) plans to destroy more than 100,000 historic files, the Morning Star has discovered.

It has earmarked 71,330 “legacy” documents as “awaiting disposal,” plus another 85,000 records from the mid-1990s.

The plans mean that as many as 156,330 military files may be shredded, rather than handed over to the National Archives in Kew where members of the public would be able to read them.

Under a transparency law passed under former prime minister David Cameron, all government files must be be handed over to the archives after 20 years, instead of 30 years as previously.

But the MoD is struggling to keep up with the new 20-year embargo. It has a vast backlog of tens of thousands of files that are older than 25 years and regarded by civil servants as “legacy” paperwork.

In an obscure bulletin published this week, the MoD revealed that it is only just about to hand over some documents from the 1930s, including one titled: Weather Forecasts in War: Single Observer Forecasting on Foreign Stations 1938-1939.

There are also records from the Korean war and a navy air accident in 1958 that have only recently been made public.

The ministry said in its bulletin: “The MoD is committed to meeting the 30:20-year transition timetable and adherence to each transition year will take precedence over the review of legacy period records. 

“The review of 1993-94 records is complete and review of 1995-96 records is nearing completion.”


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