Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Historians consider legal action against British Government

The Guardian has an interesting story today concerning thousands of files dating back to the 1840s, still held by the British Government's Foreign and Commonwealth Office, which have yet to be released, in breach of the 30 year rule (see my previous blog post at http://britishgenes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/foreign-office-hoarding-historic-files.html). The article notes that historians at Oxford, Cambridge and London universities are contemplating taking the department to court to force them to comply with the Public Records Act, to have the files released into the public domain.

It should be noted that there is most definitely a genealogical interest here - included amongst the files is a vaguely described collection entitled "Birth, death and marriage registers", taking up 20.88 metres of shelf space in the storage facility at Hanslope Park, 60 miles north of London, where the documents are currently being held.

Following the FCO's disclosure of the documents' existence in October, the Government has promised that the records "of the greatest public interest" will be handed over to the National Archives at Kew over the next six years. Concerns remain, however, as to how much will be handed over, and on what timescale, with no further announcements from the FCO having yet been made.

The full story is at www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/jan/13/foreign-office-secret-files-national-archive-historians-legal-action

(With thanks to @CILIPinfo)


My latest book, Discover Scottish Civil Registration Records, is now available from http://www.gould.com.au (print) and http://www.gen-ebooks.com/unlock-the-past.html (ebook), whilst Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet is available at http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Tracing-Your-Irish-History-on-the-Internet/p/3889/.

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