Letter:Secret files

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The Independent Online
Sir: On 18 May you published a letter from me regarding the declassification of secret documents relating to the surveillance of anti-imperialists in the UK in the 1930 and early 1940s. I have been in correspondence with Roger Freeman MP, the Cabinet Minister for Public Service.

In a letter to me dated 3 June, he wrote that in 1993 the Lord Chancellor had decided that "records whose release would not be in the public interest, in that it would do actual harm to national security, were still exempt from release". Further, "the security and intelligence agencies depend for their effectiveness upon maintaining the confidentiality of their operations as well as upon maintaining the confidentiality of people who put themselves at risk in the service of the state."

It seems that the methods and agents used in the 1930s and early 1940s are still being used today. Is our "national security" safe in such ancient and outmoded hands? Mr Freeman did not respond to my request for a definition of "national security".


Honorary Research Fellow

Institute of Commonwealth Studies

London WC1