Latest Cabinet Office files released

Today we have released Cabinet Office files from 20 years ago covering a range of subjects that crossed the desk of Tony Blair as prime minister.

Some of the issues in the files include:

  • Home affairs
  • Regional policy
  • Relations with other countries
  • Meetings with foreign leaders and governments

You can explore the newly released files via our catalogue Discovery. More digitised files will be available throughout the day.

In addition, we have released a collection of Cabinet Office files related to what became known as the ‘Spycatcher’ case. These files from the 1980s reveal government discussion on the planned publication of a memoir by an ex-MI5 officer.

Read more about the case via the links below:

PREM 19/591: This file is primarily concerned with the publication of Chapman Pincher’s book, Their Trade is Treachery, and the allegations made in that book against Sir Roger Hollis, who had served as Director General of MI5 between 1956 and 1965. It links to the controversy which later surrounded Peter Wright’s publication of his book Spycatcher. Peter Wright was believed to have been Chapman Pincher’s chief source.

PREM 19/1951: This is the first of several files concerned largely with proceedings brought by the UK government in Australian courts to prevent the publication of Peter Wright’s book, Spycatcher.

PREM 19/1952: This file contains much detailed information relating to the legal proceedings seeking to restrain publication of Spycatcher in Australia.

PREM 19/1953: This file contains continued consideration of the government’s court action seeking to prevent publication of Spycatcher in Australia, and to restrain publication of Joan Miller’s book, One Girl’s War, in Ireland.

PREM 19/1954: Michael Bettaney was an MI5 officer who attempted to spy for the Soviet Union. He was caught and in 1984 was sentenced to 23 years in prison. This file includes the unfolding decisions made within government in the wake of the case.

PREM 19/2504: This file is largely concerned with government litigation in Australia to prevent the publication of Spycatcher, and government action in Ireland to prevent the publication of One Girl’s War. The possible publication of Spychatcher in the USA is also referred to, and legal action against UK newspapers discussed.

PREM 19/2505: This file is largely devoted to detailed coverage of first instance proceedings in restraint of the publication of Spycatcher in Australia, and the related decision to appeal. The file outlines a determination to identify the source of leaks relating to the appeal.

PREM 19/2506, PREM 19/2507, and PREM 19/2508 continue with the same theme.

PREM 19/2509: The extensive and detailed coverage of various aspects of the government’s litigation in respect of Spycatcher continues in this file, including much discussion of the action taken in New Zealand and in the English and Scottish courts in respect of newspaper publications.

PREM 19/2510: The action brought in the English courts against UK newspapers is covered in depth and this file also includes, among other things, full copies of the government’s case upon appeal to the House of Lords.

PREM 19/2511: This file further details government discussions of a potential appeal in its Scottish legal action against publication of Spycatcher as well as providing extended consideration of the government’s response to, and handling of, the House of Lords’ judgment in respect of the case brought against UK newspapers.

Other digitised files

Tags: cabinet office, file release, mi5, prime minister, prime minister's office, spies, Tony Blair