01 January 2016
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The Special Branch Files Project is a web archive of declassified files focusing on the surveillance of political activists and campaigners in the UK, going live on Wednesday 13th January 2016.
In the early years of the Freedom of Information Act, journalists obtained various Special Branch documents from the Metropolitan Police and the Home Office. Unfortunately this openness was short-lived. The authorities now routinely refuse to disclose Special Branch files, including information which they previously released.
As the Met's Disclosure Log states, information released under the FOI Act is released to the world. A disclosure to one is a disclosure to all. The Met may want to prevent further access to this information but they can't turn back the clock.
Journalists and researchers who received these files in the past generously shared them with the Special Branch Files Project for publication so that they can be accessible to the public.
The documents reveal the intricate details recorded by Britain's secret police about a range of protest movements in this country; from those protesting against the Vietnam War in 1968, to the Anti-Apartheid Movement, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and the Wapping industrial dispute of 1986-87. Other files relate to the psychological support available for undercover police officers infiltrating activist groups.
The Special Branch Files Project aims to expand its collection and invites anyone who wishes to share further files, analysis or to support the project in any other way to get in touch.
The initiative is run by journalists, academics, researchers and volunteers.
The Special Branch Files Project was developed with the support of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom and Journalismfund.eu. The files are hosted at DocumentCloud.org and the website is sponsored by Greenhost in the Netherlands.
Notes to Editors:
Further Information about all of these issues can be accessed via our website from Wednesday, photos can be sent on request.
How the Met changed their policy on releasing Special Branch files
Example of the Met refusing to release files which they had previously disclosed
Founders of this project Eveline Lubbers and Nicola Cutcher can be reached for comment:
- contact[at]SpecialBranchFiles.uk (replace [at] with @)
Round-up of news stories from across the EU 29.1.16
EU: LOTS OF MISSING DOCUMENTS: Schengen Information System (SIS II)
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