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Freedom of Information 2014


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#1 unitedsound

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 08:58 PM

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?

#2 LauraCobb

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 09:57 PM

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

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#3 LauraCobb

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Posted 15 January 2011 - 09:59 PM

This website should help and explain a bit more about Freedom of Information: http://www.30yearrul.../background.htm

#4 LST_164

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 12:03 AM

I'm a bit out of date on this, but many years ago a WW1 "Mutinies" specialist informed me that embarrassing (from the authorities' point of view) segments of assorted unit WO 95 War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

#5 LauraCobb

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 01:04 AM

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

#6 unitedsound

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 01:25 PM

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

#7 LauraCobb

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Posted 16 January 2011 - 02:15 PM

I am an ex-government FOI officer, so I know these things inside out!

Many thanks for your welcome and I am glad that I could be of help!

Best,

Laura

#8 Ron Clifton

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 10:36 AM

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.)

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#9 Terry_Reeves

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 03:02 PM

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

#10 skipman

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Posted 24 May 2011 - 08:02 PM

" 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

#11 Ron Clifton

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 09:29 AM

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

#12 skipman

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 10:56 AM

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

#13 David Underdown

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 02:02 PM

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.nationala...council/default

#14 Ron Clifton

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 03:44 PM

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

#15 Terry_Reeves

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 04:57 PM

" 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

#16 skipman

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 08:00 PM

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

#17 David Underdown

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 11:27 PM

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.nationala...anuary-2009.pdf

#18 David Underdown

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    Also remembering my Great-Great-Uncle Pte 30649 Frederick John Holbrook, 2nd Bn, Welsh Regiment, Died of Wounds 26 July 1916, buried Heilly Station Cemetery, II D 11 aged 19 according to CWGC, but born 5 May 1898. Entered France 12 May 1915. (Avatar)

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Posted 25 May 2011 - 11:32 PM

Aha http://www.nationala...lreport0910.pdf page 42 says 180km of shelving split between Kew and Cheshire

#19 skipman

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Posted 26 May 2011 - 06:19 AM

Thanks David. 180km? Good grief!

Mike

#20 Moonraker

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Posted 08 June 2011 - 08:12 PM

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.


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#21 Bernard_Lewis

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 05:03 PM

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

#22 David Underdown

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Posted 23 June 2011 - 07:15 PM

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.