Release of Suez Records

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The fate of the Sèvres Protocol

The absence of the Sèvres Protocol from the Suez records and its eventual fate has been a source of considerable speculation. According to Dean's own account, on returning from Sèvres on 24 October, he went immediately to 10 Downing Street arriving at 10.30 pm. There he met Eden and a small group of senior ministers and handed the Protocol over to Eden. He never saw it again. Despite exhaustive searches, no trace of the document has been found in the files of No. 10, the Cabinet Office or the FCO. The private papers of both Eden and Selwyn Lloyd proved equally unproductive. Armstrong was in little doubt that the document had been destroyed by Sir Anthony Eden or on his instructions. This view was supported by Armstrong's Private Secretary, Michael Stark, who believed that the protocol was destroyed either by Eden, the then Cabinet Secretary Sir Norman Brook or a No. 10 Private Secretary.

These views were conveyed to the Foreign Secretary, Sir Geoffrey Howe. Before reaching a definitive conclusion, Howe sought the advice of Sir Brian Cartledge, HM Ambassador to the Soviet Union and co-trustee of the Avon papers held by Birmingham University. Cartledge was concerned that, although it was highly probable that Eden or Brook had destroyed the British copy of the Sèvres Protocol, there was no hard evidence to support this conjecture. There was the slight possibility that a copy might be produced after the release of the files. This might be as embarrassing to the government as the initial admission that the Protocol was absent from the files. To date, no trace of any British copy of the Protocol has been found; and no French copy appears to have survived either. In 1995, Shimon Peres, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, agreed to the publication of Israel's copy of the Sèvres Protocol that had been in the safekeeping of the Ben-Gurion Archive.