This Day in History: Operation Legacy

operation legacy

Operation Legacy: The UK destroyed over 8,000 colonial-era documents.

On this day in Caribbean history May 3, 1961, Operation Legacy took place. Operation Legacy, which included the destruction of over 8,800 colonial-era documents in former colonies of the United Kingdom, was formed to protect the dissemination of information about the legacy of Queen Elizabeth’s governance both positive and negative. Operation Legacy took place across 23 countries including Belize, British Guiana, Jamaica, Kenya, Malaysia, Singapore, Uganda and others.

Dignitaries in Operation Legacy countries were instructed on how and where to destroy these documents. Some of the documents revealed mistreatments from British officials. In 2013 the British government agreed to pay $23 Million US to compensate the more than 5200 elderly Kenyans who were tortured and abused in the 1950’s.

On May 3, 1961 British Colonial Secretary, Iain Macleod, issued a telegram instructing diplomats to withhold documents and issued general guidance stating that all papers should be disposed of for they “might embarrass members of the police, military forces, public servants…” and requested that this information should be kept out of the hands of newly elected independent governments



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