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Cabinet Office blocks release of Downing Street files on Gibraltar

Cabinet Office blocks release of Downing Street files on Gibraltar

Historical Downing Street documents on Gibraltar have been withheld from public release for the third time in as many years.

More than 500 Cabinet Office files will be made public today at The National Archives in west London, the majority dating from the early years of John Major’s government.

However around a hundred files, including one entitled ‘Policy towards Gibraltar’ covering the years 1992-1993, will be held back.

The Cabinet Office said that a small number of records relating to security, defence and international relations would be retained in line with the requirements of the Public Records Act and these represented only a small proportion of the total number of files from this period.

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Among the other files withheld from public release are documents relating to Hong Kong, Iraq and Northern Ireland.

In 2015 a file concerning Gibraltar and discussions with Spain under the Lisbon and Brussels agreements was withheld from a batch of files due to be released to The National Archives, and in December 2017, a file dealing with the British government’s policy towards Gibraltar during the period from 1986 to 1992 was retained by the Cabinet Office.

Attempts by the Gibraltar Chronicle to access the files under Freedom of Information legislation have so far proved fruitless.

The decision to withhold access to a third file will inevitably fuel speculation about what they might reveal about an eventful period in Gibraltar’s history, including the controversial 1984 Brussels agreement, the 1987 Airport agreement and the GSLP election victories of 1988 and 1992.

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Tommy Norton
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