The First-Tier Tribunal appeal, headed by Judge Sophie Buckley, is all set to hold a hearing until Friday to determine the fate of certain censored parts of the diaries and letters dating back to the 1930s. It comprises journals and correspondence from Lord Louis and his wife, Lady Edwina Mountbatten, that spans a significant time in British history, particularly when Mountbatten was in charge of the partition of India and Pakistan. The diaries and letters of Lord Mountbatten, India’s last viceroy, are the subject of an appeal hearing this week in London, which will determine whether they may be made completely public.

According to PTI, the UK Cabinet Office claims that much of the information in the files is already public and that keeping any of it would jeopardize the UK’s ties with other countries. The Mountbatten family sold the historical material, known as the Broadlands Archive, to the University of Southampton in 2011 for more than GBP (British Pound Sterling) 2.8 million, with the goal of making the documents freely available. On the other hand, the institution sent some of the letters to the Cabinet Office.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) ruled in favour of Lownie in 2019 and ordered the release of the whole Broadlands Archive, which includes Lady Mountbatten’s letters to India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, as well as copies of his letters to her. The University of Southampton reacted at the time by declaring that the letter between Lady Mountbatten and Nehru remained private property and remained a secret, but that the University had an interest in it in the future. The ICO’s decision has since been appealed, and the First-Tier Tribunal will hear it this week.

Mountbatten’s diaries contain personal communication within the royal family, which has been mentioned as another cause for certain edits. Mountbatten was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth II, an uncle to the late Duke of Edinburgh, and a great-uncle to Prince Charles. The witness statement from the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) highlights the possible harm and provides facts for the Tribunal to consider in its “balancing of the public interest” evaluation.  Meanwhile, oral witness testimony and cross-examinations continue during the hearing, with a judgement likely at a later date.