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27 British Academy Fellows urge Foreign Secretary to release secretly held historic files

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Twenty-seven Fellows of British Academy - historians, political scientists and academic lawyers - have written a letter to The Guardian expressing concern at the revelation that up to 1.2 million files and documents have not been released into the public domain. They urge the Foreign Secretary, whose department is holding the files contrary to the terms of the 1958 Public Records Act, to announce plans for the release of these documents to the National Archives, and for a mechanism to be established to include professional historians and archivists in the process of declassification. They have written to the foreign secretary, offering to meet to discuss the issue further.

The files are understood to date back to the Crimean War. The Fellows' letter says: "The right of citizens to investigate their UK foreign and colonial policy over the past last 150 years and more is being denied".