Paul Dacre asked to review 30-year secrecy rule

Daily Mail editor-in-chief Paul Dacre will lead a review of the rules on access to historical records, Gordon Brown announced today.

Dacre and the former permanent secretary of the Northern Ireland office, Sir Joe Pilling, are to produce a report on the subject which will be unveiled early next year, the Prime Minister said in a speech at the University of Westminster.

"FoI is not simply about current discussions within government but also about the restrictions we place on the publication of historial documents," Brown said.

"It is an irony that the information that can be made available on requests on current events and current decisions is still withheld as a matter of course for similar events and similar decisions that happened 20 or 25 years ago."

Under present arrangements, historical public records are transferred to the National Archives, were they are only opened to public access after 30 years unless they have been explicitly requested under the Freedom of Information Act.

"It is time to look again at whether records can be made available for public inspection much more swiftly than under the current arrangements," Brown said.

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