Repeated evidence of shredded, damaged and missing government records
Civil servants working in government offices have gross deficiencies when it comes to keeping important files safe. This level of extraordinary incompetence which seems to be common practice would ensure that most ordinary office workers were released from their post. The latest incident concerns CIA rendition flights now admitted to have refuelled on the British territory island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean however there is a long list of damaged document scandals relating to the British government.
Lord David Owen found it “inexplicable” that ministerial files were pulped
Lord David Owen was astonished to discover his ministerial files when he was health minister were trashed years in advance of the allotted time span given for keeping them secure. He told the Guardian in 2002 he had wished to present information regarding blood safety in 1988 however he had been unable to give evidence of his personal view that the source of donors (from US prisons and “skid-row” plasma centres) was unreliable because his private office papers had “for some inexplicable reason been pulped”.
Later in 2007 he raised fears of a government HIV blood “cover-up” with the Guardian once again which stated,
Lord Owen is expected to query why several volumes of documents relating to the issue were destroyed at a time when a similar HIV-tainted blood scandal was erupting in France. “This may be a coincidence – but it may also be a reason why the documents were destroyed. The inquiry will find out if there is any deliberate cover-up or simply maladministration.”
The Guardian explained further saying,
Since 1988 Lord Owen, who went on to become foreign secretary before later leading the SDP, has battled to see evidence backing up what he was told by doctors and officials at the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS) during his time as health minister. The DHSS pulped his official papers 10 years after he left the department, without telling him – an action he describes as “inexplicable”.
In addition thousands of other papers documenting government blood policy that led to around 4,500 haemophiliacs becoming contaminated with HIV and hepatitis C from imported US prison blood were “inadvertently shredded by a junior civil servant”.
The civil servant concerned appears to have gone on a shredding frenzy over different time periods and just happened to have destroyed important papers that would have shown alleged negligence by well known politicians and helped haemophiliacs and their families claim proper compensation for loss of life and irreversible damage to health. It must have taken a mammoth amount of time and effort to get rid of so much evidence. Years later the issue has still not been resolved and has been taken up by Alistair Burt MP.
To add insult to grievious injury, patients’ hospital files across the UK also started disappearing in droves at the same time along with plasma shipping records… you couldn’t make it up!
Simon Danczuk concerned over missing records related to alleged paedophiles in parliament
Then this week it was revealed in the Guardian that “a dossier compiled by an MP detailing allegations of a 1980s Westminster paedophile ring is one of more than 100 potentially relevant Home Office files destroyed, lost or missing.”
Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale, who is calling for an overarching national inquiry into historical child abuse, said: “I had absolutely no idea these other files were also missing. The public view will be that there is something fishy going on. The public will understandably think these documents have gone missing because it helps protect the names of those identified in them. That is the conclusion that many will come to, and who could blame them”
Then today Reprieve human rights organization issued a press statement on none other than government damaged files (see their statement below). Surely the time has come for an investigation into just how many files over the years on key matters of national importance have been “lost” are incomplete or damaged. This is a disgrace and is either incompetence on a huge scale or a determined effort to conceal vital information which may show politicians in a poor light (even more so than we already know).
There must be accountability on behalf of the government just as for the rest of us that would have been hauled over the coals for losing precious data. There is also the question of confidentiality as some records contain sensitive information pertaining to individuals and groups and for that to go missing is a matter of grave concern. The public need to be alerted and raise their voice on this matter (after all it could be papers on issues important to them destroyed next time round). We must fight to get the answers we deserve!
Diego Garcia documents on rendition evidence suffer “water damage”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.