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Diplomatic concerns keep secret Gib file firmly shut

Embargoed to 0001 Friday December 29 File photo dated 22/12/15 of a member of staff in the repositories of the National Archives in Kew. More than a dozen confidential government files covering Britain's European policy in the early 1990s have been held back from public release. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Friday December 29, 2017. Of the 45 European files due to be released to the National Archives at Kew, west London, 13 have been retained by the Cabinet Office. See PA story RECORDS Europe. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The UK Government has refused to release a classified file on Gibraltar dating back to 1949, claiming its contents could harm Britain’s relations with Gibraltar and Spain.

The file, held in the National Archives in London, contains a Colonial Office dossier with the innocuous name ‘Land and buildings: Gibraltar’.

It is the last in a series of files that has already been opened under previous document releases.

The dossier was closed for 70 years and is due to be opened on January 1, 2020.

But a request for early release under the Freedom of Information Act was turned down after the file was reviewed in July last year.

In rejecting the request to open the file, the UK Government cited an exemption that relates to its ability to communicate in confidence with its representatives abroad and with other governments and international organisations “about sensitive issues”.

This was necessary in order for UK minister and officials to be able to discuss international issues and policies frankly.

Without that confidence, those communications might be inhibited, the UK Government said in response to the Freedom of Information request.

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