A selection of recently released files

October 2008

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Catalogue ref. Date Description
Records of the Ministry of Defence
DEFE 24/1916 1976 October 14 - 1978 May 10 Northern Ireland: border incident reports

This file relates to the discovery by military police that, in 1969, 30 per cent of profits made from smuggling contraband goods between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were donated to the IRA.

Any goods that offered a price difference were smuggled between North and South. Pigs and cattle were favourites - live pigs were smuggled to the South and carcasses to the North. Cigarettes and diesel oil were taken to the North, car and vehicle parts to the South, and household goods to the South.

Regular smugglers used articulated refrigerator lorries where the smuggled goods were hidden amongst the cargo. The reason behind this was the "10 minute" law which stated that if a refrigerated lorry remained open for longer than 10 minutes during a search, then compensation was required for damage to the cargo.

Records of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and predecessors
FCO 53/516 1977 January 01 - 1977 December 31 Review of UK Nationality law

Details the change in the citizenship laws from having a single Citizenship of the UK and Colonies to two types of citizenship - British Citizenship and British Overseas Citizenship.

The move was expected to be unpopular in Hong Kong, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar.

FCO 53/526 1977 January 01 - 1977 December 31 Proposed establishment of an advisory body on the refusal and withdrawal of UK passports

This file is concerned with the powers of the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, who can exercise the Royal Prerogative in the issue, refusal and withdrawal of UK passports.

It includes discussion about whether the Secretary of State should retain his powers, and whether there should be a body to whom appeals could be made - referred to as the 'three wise men' proposal. The file refers to the case of American journalist, Mark Hosenball, who was deported for national security reasons in 1977. He was deported for obtaining information for publication harmful to national security and prejudicial to the safety of servants of the Crown.

Records created or inherited by the Home Office, Ministry of Home Security, and related bodies
HO 322/775 1973 January 01 - 1975 December 31 Wartime broadcasting service: recorded announcements

This file contains documents detailing discussions between the BBC and various government departments on the use of a pre-recorded announcement in the case of a nuclear attack. A draft script urges members of the public to stay indoors to avoid radioactive fall-out, save water, ration food and turn off all gas and fuel supplies.

An issue of concern raised by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications was that an unfamiliar voice repeating the same message could lead listeners to suspect the BBC had been obliterated. It was felt that familiar voices were necessary to reassure people "the BBC is still there".

Records of Special Operations Executive
HS 9/894/8 1939-1946 Raymond LAVERDET - born 07 June 1913

Raymond Laverdet, a sergeant in the French Army, was recommended for a King's Medal for Services in the Course of Freedom following his undercover work in Paris during World War Two. After parachuting into France in 1941, Laverdet established contact with communist groups in the French capital. The groups enabled by Laverdet, codename Dastard, carried out numerous acts of small-scale sabotage at the factories.

In January 1942 Laverdet's radio operator is believed to have been arrested but, despite the dangers, Laverdet continued his operation. In July of that year Laverdet narrowly escaped the Gestapo, who searched his home and seized his money and effects; in October he managed to make contact with the American Military Attaché and his exfiltration was arranged.