Guidance

Colonial administration files

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made available to the public a large collection of files from former British territories, sometimes known as the “migrated archives”.

All of these records, with the exception of those subject to legal exemptions, are now available to view at The National Archives (TNA). Details of the files are available on the TNA catalogue.

In June 2011 the Foreign Secretary appointed Professor Badger, Paul Mellon Professor of American History and Master of Clare College Cambridge as Independent Reviewer to oversee the release of the colonial administration files.

Professor Badger has made a video providing an overview of his role as Independent Reviewer:

Professor Tony Badger on the Foreign Office’s Colonial Administration files

Internal review into the FCO’s management and release of the colonial administration files

On 5 May 2011, the then Foreign Secretary, the Rt Hon William Hague, informed Parliament that an internal review had been completed into the FCO’s management and release of the colonial administration files. The review was undertaken by the former British High Commissioner to Canada, Mr Anthony Cary.

Cary report on release of the colonial administration files

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Closures and retentions of the colonial administration files

In November 2011, the Lord Chancellor authorised the retention of all the colonial administration files for two years in order to allow time for the FCO to review and release the files. This specific authorisation expired in December 2013 and any information which the FCO continues to withhold after that date from these files has now been closed or retained through further applications to the Lord Chancellor’s Advisory Council.

At Professor Badger’s request the FCO published statistics for retentions and closures for the colonial administration files. These statistics are available through the link below.
View statistics for retentions and closures for all eight tranches of the colonial administration files. (PDF, 265KB, 2 pages)