Daily Mail – 24 December 2004
Crooks do it. Banana republics do it. Doomed dictators do it.
How revealing that a British Government is now following their miserable example and frantically shredding documents before the public gets the chance to see them. Figures unearthed by the Tories reveal an unprecedented increase in the number of files being destroyed in advance of the Freedom of Information Act, which comes into force next week.
Whitehall is working overtime to fuel what Shadow Minister Julian Lewis describes as "a bonfire of historical records". Acres of shelves have been cleared at the Ministries of Defence, Works and Pensions, Environment, Trade and elsewhere. Some of the destroyed papers relate to events of the past few months.
One thing is sure. This Government doesn't deserve to be believed when it blandly claims all this is simply 'housekeeping'. Yes, all organisations clear out their clutter from time to time. But with an election in the offing, New Labour has an overwhelming incentive to brush its misdeeds under the carpet.
Only this week, we learned how the Home Office conveniently 'lost' potentially crucial documents concerning David Blunkett, his lover and her nanny. And that is to say nothing of the other murky affairs that cloud the Blair era, from Bernie Ecclestone to the Hindujas, from the foot-and-mouth debacle to the greatest lie of all, the misleading of the British people over the war. The one thing New Labour passionately doesn't want is a light shone on its record.
We are left with actions that smell to high heaven of a cover-up. But they are all too typical of the way we are governed now.