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Letter: MI5 to tell all?

Sir: Further to my previous letter on MI5's historical files (10 September), the plot thickens. When I recently asked the Public Record Office's Reader Services Department to comment on rumours of an imminent release of MI5 files they denied all knowledge. Others have apparently been told by Reader Services that MI5 material from the First World War is to be released "in the near future" but that no further information is available.

I have gleaned more details by talking (off the record) to a PRO official in another department. I understand that MI5's in-house history covering the First World War, some fifty volumes, will be released into the PRO in mid-November and that a BBC Timewatch documentary based on this is being prepared. Next year we can expect to see MI5 material from the Second World War and then from the inter-war period.

However, my source described the whole exercise as a "sop", warning that the files to be released will reveal little of MI5's real history.

Would the PRO care to tell us, on the record, what exactly is going on?


History Department

Christ Church College