Britain burnt ‘embarrassing’ papers to hide colonial crimes in 1950s,’60s

Britain burnt ‘embarrassing’ papers to hide colonial crimes in 1950s,’60s

50-year-old documents were finally transferred from UK Foreign Office to National Archive show.

British officials burned and dumped documents from colonies in the final years of the Empire in a systematic effort to hide their “dirty” secrets,according to files declassified on Friday.

Among the newly released files was a note warning authorities to be careful to avoid a situation similar to India in 1947,when the local press was filled with reports about the “pall of smoke” over Delhi at the very end of the British Raj as officials burnt documents before leaving.

Under “Operation Legacy”,officials in Kenya,Uganda,Malaysia,Tanzania,Jamaica and other former British colonial territories were briefed on how to dispose of documents that “might embarrass Her Majesty’s Government”.

The 50-year-old documents that were finally transferred from the UK Foreign Office to the National Archive show the extraordinary lengths to which the Colonial Office went to withhold information from its former subjects in at least 23 countries and territories in the 1950s and 1960s.