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Freedom of Information 2014


unitedsound

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Just wondering if any documentation gets released for the first time as result of say a 100 year curfew?

Or is everything already out in the open?

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The 100 year rule is plagued with inconsistencies. Files containing personal data are meant to be closed for 100 years. For example, the census is closed for that period. However, a prime example of inconsistency is that WW1 soldier records are now public domain before the 100 year anniversary.

Other government documents tend to be closed for 30 years and are then reviewed. If it is decided that they are fit for public viewing they become open access. However, the government can choose to keep files closed if they believe that the contents are not in the public interest. A prime example of this, (not WW1 but being used to illustrate a point), is the Myra Hindley and Ian Brady court case, for obvious reasons.

Hope this helps

Laura

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I'm a bit out of date on this, but many years ago a WW1 "Mutinies" specialist informed me that embarrassing (from the authorities' point of view) segments of assorted unit WO 95 War Diaries had been removed and were kept together in a collection under a 100-year restriction. Presumably these extracts mentioned acts of collective indiscipline etc.

They were catalogued, however, and this was publicly available because he had noted down which units and which covering dates were involved, even if he wasn't allowed to see the actual material.

That's my recollection anyway: things may have changed since and maybe it's all open now!

LST_164

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LST

You could very well be right. It may well be kept under 100 year rule for 'naming and shaming'. If the Government believes that a document is going to cause 'harm' to a relative of a person cited within the diaries, they will keep it under lock and key until such a time that no offence would be caused. Data Protection and FOI laws are often very stringent when it comes to things like this. I am not sure if the government can withhold information on the grounds of 'embarrassment'. If it would cause an international scandal, perhaps.

Documents I know for a fact have not been released are some psychiatric case notes relating to shell-shock. Apparently the Ministry of Pensions took them in the post-war period (possibly for reassessing entitlement to war pensions or for the Southborough Report) and the government are currently sitting on them. Speculation from archivists I know state that it may well be due to lack of space at Kew or that the current data holders do not have the funds to make these public domain at the moment. When the 100 year anniversary comes, I will be asking questions about these.

Best,

Laura

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Hi Laura

Freedom of Information Act is the term I was looking for!

Many thanks for your insight.

I note that you are a new member so welcome to this wonderful website:)

David

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  • 4 months later...

Hello LST_164

I think you mean these:

WO 154 War Office: War Diaries (Supplementary), First World War 1914-1920 342 files

They were still closed when the main WO95 files were opened, but I think they are open now.

(Note that there isn't a one-to-one correspondence between these files and the identities of the men shot at dawn, though the numbers are very similar.)

Ron

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Terry_Reeves

Sometimes it depends on who you are. Judge Anthony Barrington was given access to all the files relating to WW1 executions well before their release date for his book "For the Sake of Example" although he had to give an undertaking that he would not identify the men who were shot.

On a wider point, not all Government documents are passed to the National Archives. Some are deemed too sensitive to reach that stage and others rely on selection by teams of retired civil servants and service officers, amongst others. What is not widely known is that the department of state which donates the documents to the NA also continues to hold ownership and can withdraw them permanently or temporarily. In the latter case I only found this out when I tried to obtain a unit war diary which had a note attached to its catalogue reference "unavailable - out with a government department" and on enquiry was given the above explanation by a member of staff.

TR

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" In the latter case I only found this out when I tried to obtain a unit war diary which had a note attached to its catalogue reference "unavailable - out with a government department" and on enquiry was given the above explanation by a member of staff. "

That's interesting Terry, can you name the unit, and do you have any idea why that might have been?

Any news on Service records of Ranks; Major, Lieutenant-Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier, Major General etc etc?

Cheers Mike

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Hello Mike

Some years ago I had the same experience with this file, which has details of the attachments of AFA Brigades and RGA Batteries, among other things:

WO 95/5494 Locations of Army Units 1914-1919

The file was only out temporarily and was there when next I looked, a few months later. The staff thought that someone at the MoD might have requested it, rather than making the trip out to Kew to consult it there. What you might call "Kew-jumping" :lol: There is certainly nothing contentious or sensitive in it.

Other classes are retained by originating offices. For instance, correspondence and letter-books relaing to the RMC/RMA (WO99 and WO152) are still held at Sandhurst.

Certain files in class WO71, relating to post-WW2 courts-martial, have also had certain extracts removed and put into closed sub-files, the main file being open. See in particular WO71/1573 and 1574, where the closed parts relate to psychiatric and similar reports.

Ron

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Thanks as always Ron, I thought there may have been some great secret being hidden from us mere mortals.

"Kew jumping" very good. :thumbsup:

Regarding the Officer's service records. What is the highest rank file available, and where are all the others?

I assume even Haig would have, or have had, a file?

Cheers Mike

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David_Underdown

Don't forget that field marshals remain on the active list for life, so their service would go way past the 1922 cut off

Retention by department and extended closure beyond the usual 30 year term require Lord Chancellor's Instruments, though these have now effectively been superseded by the application of exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act, but for records transferred to TNA these are still approved by the Advisory Committee on National Records and Archives, chaired by the Master of the Rolls (historically the holder of this office was responsible for all court records originally stored in the Rolls Chapel on the original Chancery Lane PRO site). See http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/advisorycouncil/default

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Regarding the Officer's service records. What is the highest rank file available, and where are all the others?

I assume even Haig would have, or have had, a file?

Cheers Mike

Mike

There are some here:

WO 138 War Office: Personal Files 1830-1963

WO 138/1 Dr. James Barry M.D., Inspector General of the Army Medical Department 1830-1914

WO 138/2 Field Marshal HRH The Duke of Cambridge 1876-1909

WO 138/3 Lieut. Colonel J.H. Reynolds V.C. 1879-1896

WO 138/4 Major General C.G. Gordon. 1880-1881

WO 138/5 Major General Sir W.G. MacPherson 1883-1927

WO 138/6 Lieut. Colonel Sir G.L. Holford 1888-1914

WO 138/7 Lieut. Colonel C. a Court-Repington 1888-1903

WO 138/8 Lieut. Colonel W.T. Marshall V.C. 1889-1925

WO 138/9 Captain HRH Prince Duleep Singh 1890-1898

WO 138/10 Colonel E. Mitchel 1890-1907

WO 138/11 Lieut. Colonel Lord Stamfordham 1891-1910

WO 138/12 Sir Almroth Wright F.R.S. 1892-1906

WO 138/13 Major General Sir David Bruce F.R.S. 1894-1912

WO 138/14 Major General Sir R.A.J. Talbot 1895-1904

WO 138/15 Lieut. Colonel F.E.G. Ponsoby 1897-1908

WO 138/16 General Sir Redvers Buller V.C. 1899-1908

WO 138/17 Lieut. Colonel Robert Talbot Beamish 1900-1901

WO 138/18 Captain E. B. Towse, VC 1900-1921

WO 138/19 Colonel H. L. Bunbury 1901

WO 138/20 H.M. William II, Emperor of Germany 1901

WO 138/21 Lieut. Colonel J. Sladen 1901-1909

WO 138/22 Colonel H. C. L. Holden 1901-1915

WO 138/23 Lieut. General Sir C. Warren 1901

WO 138/24 General Sir Hector A. MacDonald 1902-1903

WO 138/25 Brig. General C. Fitzclarence, VC 1902-1915

WO 138/26 Major General B.J.C. Doran 1902-1919

WO 138/27 Major S.L. Cotton 1902-1924

WO 138/28 Major General The Earl of Dundonald 1904-1905

WO 138/29 Major General Hon E.J. Montagu Stuart-Wortley 1904-1924

WO 138/30 Colonel A.G. Hipwell 1906

WO 138/31 Lieut. General Sir E.T.H. Hutton 1907-1915

WO 138/32 Captain the Hon F.E. Guest, PC, MP 1907-1937

WO 138/33 Brig, General F.C. Carter 1908-1914

WO 138/34 Lieut. H.C. Woods 1909-1916

WO 138/35 Captain L.E.G. Oates 1910-1913

WO 138/36 Major General T.D. Pilcher 1914-1916

WO 138/37 Lieut. General Sir F.C. Shaw 1914-1921

WO 138/38 Major General Lord Cheylesmore 1915

WO 138/39 Lieut. Colonel J. A. Gormley 1915-1916

WO 138/40 Lieut. General Sir F.W.Stopford 1915-1918

WO 138/41 Brig. General A.E. Atkin 1915-1920

WO 138/42 Major General Sir W. Douglas 1916-1918

WO 138/43 Lieut. Colonel The Marquis of Cambridge 1916-1927

WO 138/44 Field Marshal The Earl Kitchener of Khartoum 1916-1932

WO 138/45 Surgeon General J.G. Macneece 1917

WO 138/46 Major General E.C.W. Mackenzie-Kennedy 1917

WO 138/47 Lieut. General Sir F.S. Maude 1917-1918

WO 138/48 General Sir J.E. Nixon 1917-1920

WO 138/49 Major General H.G. Hathaway 1917-1924

WO 138/50 Major General G.A. Egerton 1918-1927

WO 138/51 Lieut. Colonel P.H. Fawcett 1919-1937

WO 138/52 General Sir John Cowans 1921-1924

WO 138/53 Field Marshal Earl Roberts 1881-1930

WO 138/54 Captain Sir C Slade Bt: the Slade Baronetcy 1890-1891

WO 138/55 Lieutenant General Sir O'Moore Creagh VC: promotion to General 1892-1908

WO 138/56 Brigadier General Lord Gowrie VC, GCMG, CB, DSO appointed Governor General of Australia 1898-1955

WO 138/57 Lieutenant General Sir Matthew H G Fell, KCB, CMG, FRCS (late RAMC) 1898-1959

WO 138/58 Surgeon Lieut Colonel W H Briggs (Broun by Deed Poll) petition of right 1890-1915

WO 138/59 Brigadier General E L Ellington RA - transfer to Air Force 1902-1918

WO 138/60 Major General Sir Alfred P Blenkinsop KCB., CMG., KHP (late RAMC) 1900-1936

WO 138/61 Number not used.

WO 138/62 General Sir J J Asser, KCB., KCMG, KCVO, ADC 1907-1949

WO 138/63 General Sir Bryan T Mahon KCVO, KCB, DSO 1915-1930

WO 138/64 General Sir Charles V F Townsend KCB, DSO 1904-1953

WO 138/65 Captain The Hon J R L French: Medical Board 1917

WO 138/66 Vacancy for Colonelcy Royal Scots Fusiliers: Major General Sir H M Trenchard (Air Marshal RAF) 1919-1920

WO 138/67 Field Marshal Sir Archibald A Montgomery-Massing Berd KCB, KCMG 1922-1954

WO 138/68 Dame Lesley Whateley: appointment as Director, Auxiliary Territorial Service 1943-1946

WO 138/69 Pte F G Miles VC, Gloucester Regiment: Victoria Cross Annuity 1944-1961

WO 138/70 Sergt W Gregg VC, Rifle Brigade Victoria Cross Annuity 1944-1959

WO 138/71 Lieut G H Mullin VC MM Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry: Victoria Cross Annuity 1947-1963

WO 138/72 Pte E Telfer Royal Army Ordnance Corps: absence 1945-1948

WO 138/73 Field Marshal Lord Montgomery of Alamein: appointed as Chairman, Western Union Commanders in Chief Committee 1948-1958

WO 138/74 Lieut Wilfred E S Owen Manchester Regiment 1915-1919

WO 138/75 Lieut Colonel N A D Barton DSO Army Service Corps 1902-1944

Subseries within WO 138 Field Marshal Earl Haig

WO 138/76 Death report 1928 Jan-May

WO 138/77 Arrears of retired pay 1916 Dec-1929 June

WO 138/78 Erection of statue in memory 1933 Feb-1938 Feb

Ron

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Terry_Reeves

" In the latter case I only found this out when I tried to obtain a unit war diary which had a note attached to its catalogue reference "unavailable - out with a government department" and on enquiry was given the above explanation by a member of staff. "

That's interesting Terry, can you name the unit, and do you have any idea why that might have been?

MIke

It was 19 Trench Mortar Battery and it reappeared two months later. There was no indication of what department it went to, or why. The diary is only 4 pages long and there is nothing contentious in it.

TR

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Thanks very much Terry. I didn't realise high rank service records were available at all. So they are available at Kew?

I hope there is a very good sprinkler system in Kew, there must be a few tons of paper in there. Are they copied, or insured?

Cheers Mike

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David_Underdown

The National Archives holds over 11 million records, somewhere I've heard the figure that they are on 100 miles of shelving. Due to pressure on space at Kew, some records are stored down a salt mine in Cheshire http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/meetings/user-forum-deepstore-presentation-january-2009.pdf

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David_Underdown

Aha http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documents/annualreport0910.pdf page 42 says 180km of shelving split between Kew and Cheshire

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  • 2 weeks later...

One organiser of local celebrations is hoping to persuade her county record office to relax the 100-year rule on the release of records relating to hospital patients. In 1914 several soldiers based locally to her were treated at a local civilian hospital, before facilities were established at their camps. Likewise I would be interested in records of Canadian soldiers admitted to the County Lunatic Asylum in Devizes in late 1914.

Moonraker

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  • 2 weeks later...
Bernard_Lewis

Not an expert but - on a simple level - the Data Protection Act only applies to living individuals (though the ikely leffect of any release of info on the deceased persons surviving relatives might lead to non-release).

If you wish to see the records of an individual that are more than 100 years old then it might be worth asking the holding body for access explaining that the person is long dead and the info requested is at least 100 years old. Quote the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and make the request in writing (letter or e-mail). As has been mentioned the 100 year rule is not set in concrete - hence the Burnt Records access etc. So ask anyway...

If the request is refused then the holding body should provide reasons. If the request does properly fall under FOI Act you can then ask for an internal review of any decision not to disclose and - if that fails - appeal to the Information Commissioner. No charge for this so worth a try assuming your request is not just sensationalist etc. There are lots of legitimate reasons for non-disclosure.

Bernard

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David_Underdown

I think there's a specific bar on hospital records until 100 years. I understand the BMA is very touchy about medical confidentiality in general.

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