Forging the past

Martin Allen, a “historian”, is found to have based the claims in his three books on 29 amateurishly forged documents planted in the National Archives.

I googled for the author and found a blameless historian from the Fitzwilliam Museum and a lot of football managers but no mention of him in the first 5 pages of results.

The investigation found an almost amateurish level of forgery: telegrams and memos contained factual inaccuracies; letterheads had been added using a laser printer; forged signatures were pencilled beneath the ink; and the text of the 29 documents – occasionally in conspicuously modern language – was typed on just four typewriters. (From the Guardian report)

A laser printer? 🙂

This cautionary tale against taking historical “evidence” on faith led me to the other Guardian pieces on the National Archives. This little gem from the 1970s does have the ring of truth:

The US politician who was America’s youngest ever secretary of defence – Donald Rumsfeld – attempted to influence British military policy in the mid-1970s, newly released government archives showed today.
Nearly 30 years before the invasion of Iraq, Rumsfeld wrote to his UK counterpart, Roy Mason, and the prime minister, James Callaghan, opposing plans for large-scale defence cuts.
The message, marked “Secret” and dated July 19 1976, is a mixture of anxiety and flattery – mingled with the hint of a threat. (From the Guardian, 28 December 2007)

I don’t know how successful he was then – when UK Labour governments were a little more resistant to US pressure – but can we see a career theme developing?