Secret documents released today reveal the full extent to which Whitehall systematically destroyed files relating to colonial crimes committed in the final years of the British empire.

Files published by the National Archives at Kew tell how administration staff in Kenya, Uganda and Malaya ‘cleansed’ so-called dirty documents. Material which could ‘embarrass Her Majesty’s Government’ was burnt, dumped in rivers or discreetly flown to Britain to stop it falling into the hands of post-independence regimes.

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