Over 50,000 records destroyed by prison authorities in Northern Ireland months before FOI Act came into force

Prison authorities in Northern Ireland destroyed 52,382 files in the months before the Freedom of Information Act was introduced.

The information included prisoner records, policy notes and medical logs and was disposed of before January 2005, when the FOI Act came into force to make public bodies more transparent.

The Northern Ireland Prison Service has been criticised for destroying security files on hundreds of terrorist prisoners held at the Maze. SDLP Justice spokesman Alban Maginnis said: "It shows a very narrow and secretive attitude amongst the prison authorities and obviously it is regrettable that they stooped to such an excessive measure such as destroying a vast number of files."

Prison files were destroyed ahead of release in the North (Belfast Telegraph, 31 December 2006)