Thousands of government papers detailing some of the most controversial episodes in 20th-century British history have vanished after civil servants removed them from the country’s National Archives and then reported them as lost.
Documents concerning the Falklands war, Northern Ireland’s Troubles and the infamous Zinoviev letter – in which MI6 officers plotted to bring about the downfall of the first Labour government – are all said to have been misplaced.
Other missing files concern the British colonial administration in Palestine, tests on polio vaccines and long-running territorial disputes between the UK and Argentina.
Almost 1,000 files, each thought to contain dozens of papers, are affected. In most instances, the entire file is said to have been mislaid after being removed from public view at the archives and taken back to Whitehall.
An entire file on the Zinoviev letter scandal is said to have been lost after Home Office civil servants took it away. The Home Office declined to say why it was taken or when or how it was lost. Nor would it say whether any copies had been made.
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In other instances, papers from within files have been carefully selected and taken away.
Foreign Office officials removed a small number of papers in 2015 from a file concerning the 1978 murder of Georgi Markov, a dissident Bulgarian journalist who died after being shot in the leg with a tiny pellet containing ricin while crossing Waterloo Bridge in central London.
The Foreign Office subsequently told the National Archives that the papers taken were nowhere to be found.
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