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Historical documents

360 Shedden to Burton

Letter, CANBERRA, 7 April 1948


Sir Percy Sillitoe, Head of M.I.5 of the War Office, recently came to Australia on the direction of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, to acquaint the Prime Minister with information, which had come to the knowledge of the United Kingdom Authorities, that a copy of United Kingdom Post-Hostilities Planning Paper PHP(45)6(0) Final - Security in the Western Mediterranean and the Eastern Atlantic, had come into the possession of the U.S.S.R. It was alleged that the copy had been obtained from an agent in Australia.

2. As the Defence Department was the recipient of this document, the matter was referred to me initially for investigation and report on the system of control, circulation, and custody of secret United Kingdom Staff and Planning Papers in the Defence Department, and on the reliability of officers who handle these documents. This has been done, and an examination of our records shows:-

(i) That none of the copies of this document are missing.

(ii) That it was circulated to the three Service Members of the Joint Planning Committee and the Secretary to the Committee.

(iii) That it was also furnished to Mr. Milner, who was apparently the External Affairs Representative on the Post Hostilities Planning Committee at the time, in accordance with a request of 6th November 1945 from him (copy attached).

Mr. Milner had the document from 15th November 1945 to 19th February 1946, and a copy of United Kingdom Paper PHP(45)15(0) Final - Security of India and the Indian Ocean - was forwarded to him at the same time.

Mr. Milner later obtained Paper PHP(45)6(0) again, and had it from 6th March 1946 to 28th March 1946.

3. Dr. Evatt suggested, at a Conference with the Prime Minister this morning, that I should communicate the above to you in order that you could look into the matter in so far as your Department is concerned, and submit a report to your Minister. I also enclose Copy No. 109 of Paper PHP(45)6(0) Final, and shall be glad if you will return it in due course.[1]

[1] Burton sent an interim reply on 9 April asking 'what has occurred recently to raise the matter of a leakage which took place some years ago? In what form did the leakage take place?'.

[AA : A6691, AS3/1, SECTION 6]
Last Updated: 11 September 2013
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