Files released: Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Cabinet Office

Today, more than 2,000 Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Cabinet Office records have been released. This joint release covers a wide range of subjects and dates.

The Cabinet Office files are predominantly from 1991 (CAB and PREM) when John Major entered Downing Street, with some previously retained files from Margaret Thatcher’s time as Prime Minister. Some of the issues include the introduction of a council tax, Middle East relations and the Gulf War, the Provisional IRA attack on Downing Street, East-West relations and foreign visits and meetings.

Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO, FO and CO) files relate to events and issues in South Asia, the Middle East, the Far East – including Hong Kong Departments, Mexico and the Caribbean (1985-87), and records relating to the Information Research Department, the Office of the Governor of Spandau Prison, and the Colonial Office.

Black and white photograph of a small plane on ice-covered ground

Miscellaneous photographs relating to the First Soviet Antarctic Expedition, 1956 (catalogue reference: CO 1069/932 (1))

Highlights from the files

Searchable from PREM 19/2223 to PREM 19/3568, and CAB 128 to CAB 301/311, highlights of the Cabinet Office files include:

  • the parole position of Myra Hindley and Ian Brady (PREM 19/2223)
  • the Gulf War (PREM 19/3076 – 3086)
  • Margaret Thatcher’s meeting with Mother Teresa (PREM 19/3482)
  • celebration of the Queen Mother’s 80th and 90th Birthdays (PREM 19/3518)
  • matters relating to the Royal Household, 1940-1966 (CAB 301/179)
  • Communism in UK organisations, 1963-1966 (CAB 301/206)
  • contacts between John Profumo and the Civil Service, 1961-1963 (CAB 301/271) as well as the subsequent investigation that followed in 1963-1965 (CAB 301/272)

All files in the Cabinet minutes (CAB 128) and Cabinet memoranda (CAB 129) series have been digitised as part of the Cabinet Papers project and can be accessed online.

Meanwhile, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office release contains records dating from 1945 to 2000. The files cover a wide range of subject matters concerning:

  • UK relations with China, Japan and North Korea in 1986 (FCO 21/3278-3662)
  • the future of Hong Kong and the events of 1987-1988 (FCO 40/2393-2609)
  • anti-communist information gathered by the Information Research Department from 1950-1991 (FCO 95/1953-1982 and FO 1110 /2132-2167)
  • records relating to Nazi deputy leader Rudolf Hess and the special arrangements made by Spandau Allied Prison for Prisoner Number 7 – Hess – once all the other prisoners had been released (FCO 161/1-71)
  • correspondence between Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and President John F. Kennedy concerning the Cuban Missile crisis of 1962 (FO 598/29)

The release concludes with a tranche of photographs of the Romanov family including Tsar Alexander III and his family in exile after the Russian Revolution (CO 1069 /921-942).

Read about culinary episodes found in some of the files on our blog.

Explore the files

Tags: file release

Related news