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MT's official files as Prime Minister, 1979-90

MT's official files as PM can be read on this site as they are released, in full and free to all - the confidential files originally stored at No.10, the core record of her premiership.

The files have been copied at the British National Archives (TNA) at Kew in London and can be downloaded precisely as they appear in the reading room.

We are doing something more to help people make sense of this mass of information. The files are subject-based, logically enough, but that system makes it difficult to reconstruct the flow of paper across the Prime Minister’s desk at any point in time, depriving us of a sense of context and cross-winds, some of them overwhelming.

To combat this effect we are uploading a large selection of the most important documents from these files – thousands in total - to our powerful site database. You can search and sort by date, subject and other parameters, getting as close as anyone can now get to reconstructing the Prime Minister’s daily "Red Boxes", the rich diet of foreign and domestic policy papers submitted to her by the No.10 Private Office.

List and links to the PM’s files

Below are links to the downloadable files in numerical order. The subject terms are those used in the original filing system.

An average file has around 200 pages.

You can read here an account of how filing worked at No.10, and the system for archiving MT’s Prime Ministerial papers, both of which had their quirks.

Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Private Office files, 1979-1989

1979-89: Chancellor’s Private Office files [links to hundreds of digitised files from the Chancellorships of Sir Geoffrey Howe and Nigel Lawson]

Engagement Diaries

An alternative way through the material is to read MT’s engagement diaries, jumping day to day.

The engagement diaries link directly to relevant documents in the site database, so this is a good way to recover the perspective from the Red Box.

File name Titlesort descending Begins Ends Date of release Any docs withheld? File classification Pages
PREM19/910 Security (Publication of book by Gordon Welchman (former head of Hut 6) called 'The Hut Six Story' on wartime German Enigma cryptanalysis: reactions of US and UK governments) Begins: 1982 Apr 30 Ends: 1982 Jul 27 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 8
PREM19/1129 Security (Publication of book containing accounts of National Security Agency) Begins: 1982 Mar 14 Ends: 1983 May 5 Date of release: Date of release: Retained Sec 3.4 File classification: Unknown
PREM19/2499 Security (RAF fixed telecommunications system) Begins: 1988 Mar 29 Ends: 1988 Jul 21 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/2500 Security (Reform of Official Secrets Act: proposed Protection of Official Information Bill; enforcing the duty of confidentiality) (Part 1) Begins: 1979 May 4 Ends: 1987 Oct 30 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/916 Security (Resignation of Commander Michael Trestrail, Queen's Police Officer; homosexual relationship with male prostitute; investigation by Lord Bridge of Harwich into security aspects) Begins: 1982 Jul 19 Ends: 1982 Nov 25 Date of release: 2013 Nov 20 File classification: Secret Pages: 82
PREM19/357 Security (Review of adequacy of leaks procedure) Begins: 1980 Jan 4 Ends: 1980 Aug 4 Date of release: 2010 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 57
PREM19/119 Security (Robin Cook's Bill on the Security Service) Begins: 1979 Nov 29 Ends: 1979 Dec 17 Date of release: 2009 Dec 30 File classification: Confidential Pages: 17
PREM19/2502 Security (Security and protection of the Prime Minister) (Part 2) Begins: 1986 Feb 3 Ends: 1987 Jan 26 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Retained Sec 3.4
PREM19/919 Security (Security at Chequers; reports on break-in (September 1966); mishandled mail (December 1972); Territorial Army exercise (June 1973); low-flying over Chequers (February 1974)) Begins: 1966 Oct 7 Ends: 1982 Oct 18 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 File classification: Secret Pages: 23
PREM19/917 Security (Security at GCHQ: representations from Nicholas Edwards MP; untimely deaths of two GCHQ employees (Jack Wolfenden in an aircraft accident) and Ernest Peter Brockway (suspected suicide); question of a 'radio ham' who lived for 11 years with a translator at GCHQ) Begins: 1982 Nov 23 Ends: 1982 Dec 24 Date of release: 2012 Dec 28 Any docs withheld? 3 File classification: Secret Pages: 16
PREM19/2509 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 10) Begins: 1987 Nov 2 Ends: 1988 Mar 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2510 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 11) Begins: 1988 Apr 7 Ends: 1988 Sep 29 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2511 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 12) Begins: 1988 Oct 5 Ends: 1988 Dec 23 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2504 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 5) Begins: 1987 Jan 8 Ends: 1987 Mar 12 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department
PREM19/2505 Security (Security of the Secret Services: Chapman Pincher's book 'Their Trade is Treachery'; Peter Wright case) (Part 6) Begins: 1987 Mar 13 Ends: 1987 Mar 31 Date of release: Date of release: Retained File classification: Temporarily retained by Department

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