[The following are excerpts from a report in today's edition of The Daily Telegraph.]
Secret files on the downfall of Margaret Thatcher will be made public in just five years as the Government cuts the amount of time that records remain confidential.
Sensitive official documents on the Poll Tax riots, the miners’ strike, the Westland helicopter affair and the Lockerbie disaster will also be published far sooner than they would have been under the old 30-year rule. (...)
Under the Public Records Act 1958, government papers are currently declassified 30 years after being written, and made available in an annual batch by the National Archives at Kew. (...)
Starting in January 2013, two years’ worth of classified files will be published each year for a decade so that by 2023, the records will be only 20 years behind the events they describe rather than 30.
This will mean that 2014 – just three years from now – will see the publication of Cabinet discussions on the miners’ strike of the mid-1980s, the Westland helicopter affair that led to Michael Heseltine’s resignation and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
Just months before the planned general election in May 2015, the public could see sensitive information about the Hungerford massacre and the terrorist downing of a passenger jet over Lockerbie. (...)
Under the new plan, certain records could be released before others while details of Government communications with senior members of the Royal family are likely to remain hidden either for 20 years or until five years after the death of the individual concerned.