Republican suspects were interned without trial during Northern Ireland's Troubles for longer than necessary because the authorities skewed the release process, according to newly discovered documents.

A secret Ministry of Defence record of exchanges between the chief of the general staff (CGS) and the permanent under secretary (PUS) at the Northern Ireland Office in 1973 shows that only cases likely to be rejected were referred for review.

The minutes ‑ taken by Lt Col David Ramsbotham, who later became HM chief inspector of prisons ‑ were found in the National Archives at Kew in London by researchers from the Pat Finucane Centre, a Derry-based human rights group.

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