Letter: Let the secrets out

Sir: You report the remarks of Lords Callaghan and Healey that the 30-year-rule on the disclosure of public records is an absurdity ("Cold War veterans come clean", 23 January). What makes the 30-year rule even more pernicious is that the Public Records Act contains all sorts of exemptions that mean many files are withheld well beyond the 30-year norm, often purely on the say-so of the relevant Departmental Records Officer.

A visit to the Public Records Office will show that vast tracts of the historical archive will remain closed to the public well into the next century, including even records relating to the Second World War.

The intelligent approach adopted by the Foreign Office on files relating to the Cold War should now be emulated by other departments, and the whole approach to the secrecy of public records reviewed under a Freedom of Information Act.


London SE5