MI5 files released at National Archives

The National Archives have released a number of MI5 records this week. They include secret tips for Russian spies coming to London in the 1930s. Look in file KV 2 /137 (a hard copy is available to view online). These particular documents were seized by the Germans from a Russian agent captured in Paris during the Second World War and provide a list of the smart hotels of London and where the spy about town should eat out.

This is the first release of Security Service records since the full implementation of the Freedom of Information Act in January 2005. This introduction will give you more information about the release and the National Archive’s filing system. Though the security services are exempt from the Act (unlike in the United States), they do make some records available. This release is the twelfth and largest ever publication of Security Service records and contains 357 files. This brings the total number of MI5 records in the public domain to just 2,500.

Compare this measley amount to the number of declassified security documents released to the National Security Archive in the USA: 100,000 released documents, 30,000 intelligence files on individuals and organisations (amount released in UK = 0), 20,000 records released in response to FOIA requests (zero records released in UK in response to FOIA as intelligence services are exempt!)

Here is a brief overview and description of the most interesting and noteworthy files from MI5 released by the National Archives in March.

2 Responses to “MI5 files released at National Archives”

  1. This Planet says:

    In Spycatcher, (1987), the author recalls that in 1955 MI5 kept 2 MILLION Personal Files (PFs) in manilla folders, which only rose significantly in the late sixties early/seventies due to student radicalism. I imagine it is far larger now thanks to computer databases and the public access internet.

    When you consider the UK population is 60 million, greater than 1 in every 30 people could have a MI5 personal file. That is not a free country. Just about anybody who can count to ten on his or her fingers could be being classified as a threat to the state according to those numbers.

    MI5 turns people against the state by having so many records on innocent members of the public with morals.

  2. noel says:

    how can I see my MI5 file( 30yrs even ie 1978)

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