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Friday, January 15, 2016

Cabinet document open access: Sir Humphrey had it nailed

Enjoyed episodes of the marvellous Yes Minister series over the break, including The Skeleton in the Cupboard where Sir Humphrey is anxious to avoid disclosure of his involvement as a junior official thirty years before in a monumental stuff up. As the file is now due for open access the Minister asks:
How am I going to explain the missing documents to "The Mail"?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well, this is what we normally do in circumstances like these.
James Hacker: [reads memo] This file contains the complete set of papers, except for a number of secret documents, a few others which are part of still active files, some correspondence lost in the floods of 1967...
James Hacker: Was 1967 a particularly bad winter?
Sir Humphrey Appleby: No, a marvellous winter. We lost no end of embarrassing files.
James Hacker: [reads] Some records which went astray in the move to London and others when the War Office was incorporated in the Ministry of Defence, and the normal withdrawal of papers whose publication could give grounds for an action for libel or breach of confidence or cause embarrassment to friendly governments.
James Hacker: That's pretty comprehensive. How many does that normally leave for them to look at?
James Hacker: How many does it actually leave? About a hundred?... Fifty?... Ten?... Five?... Four?... Three?... Two?... One?... *Zero?*
Sir Humphrey Appleby: Yes, Minister. 

Ah, relief we've left all that nonsense behind in the 33 years since the program first aired. 

Haven't we ?

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