Thousands of government papers, covering things from the Falklands War to Northern Ireland’s Troubles, went missing from the National Archives.
Ministers are facing calls for an investigation following a report that the documents, covering some of the most controversial episodes in 20th century British history, vanished.
Most of the papers went missing after civil servants removed the files from public display at the archives at Kew, west London, and took them back to Whitehall, according to The Guardian.
Records covering the Falklands War, Northern Ireland’s Troubles and the infamous Zinoviev letter – when MI6 officers apparently conspired to bring down the first Labour government – are among those said to have been misplaced.
In all, almost 1,000 files – each said to contain dozens of papers – are reported to have been affected.
They are said to have included an entire file on the Zinoviev letter which was said to have been lost after being taken from the archives by civil servants at the Home Office.
On another occasion, Foreign Office officials were said to have removed a ‘small number’ of papers from a file on the 1978 killing of the dissident Bulgarian journalist Georgi Markov who was shot in the leg with a tiny ricin pellet while crossing Waterloo Bridge.
While most of the papers were said to have been found and returned to the archives, ‘a couple’ were still said to be lost.
Others listed by the archive as ‘misplaced while on loan to government department’ were said to include files on the activities of the Communist Party of Great Britain during the Cold War and the seizure of Russian government funds held in British banks after the 1917 revolution.
For Labour, shadow cabinet office minister Jon Trickett said: ‘The ‘loss’ of documents about controversial periods in history is unacceptable.
‘The British people deserve to know what the Government has done in their name and their loss will only fuel accusations of a cover-up.
‘These important historical documents may be a great loss to history, and their disappearance must urgently be investigated.’
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