APPG calls for open access to the Broadlands Archives.

ARA wishes to bring its members’ attention to a recent communicationfrom the APPG’s Chair, Chris Evans MP, to The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP,Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster about the Broadlands Archives whichinclude the Mountbatten family papers.

Parliamentary copyright images are reproduced with the permission of ParliamentThe ARA supports the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History call to ensure open access to the Broadlands Archives

As the provider of the secretariat and a longstanding supporter of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History (APPG), the ARA wishes to bring its members’ attention to a recent communication from the APPG’s Chair, Chris Evans MP, to The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster about the Broadlands Archives which include the Mountbatten family papers.

Chris states: “Broadlands Archives were purchased by Southampton University with large sums of public money on the basis that they would be available to the public. However, it has transpired that parts of the Archive have not been quite so available as initially promised. Historian Andrew Lownie has had to fight a lengthy and costly legal battle with the University and the Cabinet Office in order to try and gain access to the diaries and letters of Lord and Lady Mountbatten. The University and the Cabinet Office have missed numerous statutory deadlines, and the University was taken to court by the Information Commissioner for contempt for refusing to provide information.

“I do not believe it is fair, nor in the interest of historical enquiry and academia, that private citizens should be forced to spend large sums of their own savings to obtain access to historical records that were purchased for the nation at significant public expense.”

Julian Lewis MP has started an Early Day Motion (EDM) on the subject and is planning to table this next week (w/c 26th July).

Julian’s EDM is as follows:

RELEASE TO HISTORIANS OF THE MOUNTBATTEN DIARIES

That this House notes with concern that the personal diaries of Lord and Lady Mountbatten were purchased from the family's Broadlands Archive Trust, a decade ago, by Southampton University with a substantial sum of public money including almost £2 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund; that, until the sale to the University, the Mountbatten family had made the diaries available to historians upon request; that Lady Mountbatten was never a public servant and consequently her writings are not subject to Freedom of Information restrictions; that in December 2019 the Information Commissioner's Office ordered the University to disclose the Mountbatten diaries and correspondence; that this continues to be resisted at the apparent direction of the Cabinet Office, citing FOI exemptions but refusing to identify the criteria relevant to the Mountbatten diaries; that it is 42 years since the death of Lord Mountbatten and 61 years since that of Lady Mountbatten; that it is deeply regrettable that their distinguished biographer, Dr Andrew Lownie, has so far had to pay £250,000 pursuing a legal case for the diaries' release to historians; and accordingly calls for their disclosure for publication without further obfuscation and delay.

The ARA fully supports the APPG and this EDM, and the need to hold the University and Cabinet Office accountable for their actions.