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Reclosure and takedown policy

Date updated: 3/10/2023

London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) is responsible for over 100km of the capital’s documentary heritage dating from 1067 to the present day from parchment rolls to digital files. LMA is committed to making the collections it holds freely available to users, both onsite and online. 

This policy sets out why and how records held, preserved and made available by LMA may need to be closed to further public access, or taken down from view on our public websites. 

It is unusual for open material to be subsequently reclosed or taken down, but LMA recognises that there are legitimate circumstances when this may be necessary. 

The policy applies to records in all formats which are held by LMA for preservation as archives, as well as content published on our online and onsite resources including digital images of records and associated metadata. The policy also covers content from LMA on the websites of our commercial partners. 

In making material available online, LMA acts in good faith. It endeavours to mitigate the risk of damage to third parties by checking the copyright status of material wherever feasible, and, where possible, contacting rights-holders for permission to make material available. The terms and conditions of use of all digital content are made clear to users at point of access. 

The policy does not apply to records already closed to public access under Data Protection or Freedom of Information legislation or which may be subject to restrictions imposed by owners of collections and which are clearly identified in the LMA catalogue, see the LMA’s Collections Access Policy


Requests for the reclosure or takedown of material must be made in writing to the Director, London Metropolitan Archives and emailed to the enquiry team  or sent to the following address: London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HB. 

Applicants should provide their full name, home address and additional contact details such as email address, full details of the material concerned (including unique LMA catalogue reference number and/or web URL) and set out clearly the reason(s) for the request. 

If the request relates to copyright, you should also provide proof, under penalty of perjury, that you are the rights holder or their representative. 

Once a written request is received, every effort will be made to temporarily withdraw the material from public access until the request can be reviewed, but this may not be possible immediately, especially with online material. 

All requests will be reviewed by a panel composed of members of senior staff with appropriate expertise chaired by an LMA Assistant Director. 

The panel will carefully consider the request on its merits and provide a written response within 30 working days of the request being received. The reasons behind the decision made will be made clear to the applicant in writing. 

At the end of this process, the material will either be reopened/made available, or continue to be closed for access. 

Reclosure or takedown will only be considered if one of the following criteria is met: 

  • Material opened/published in good faith is now considered to be subject to an exemption in the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 or the Environmental Information Regulations (EIR) 2004 owing to changed circumstances and the public interest lies in withholding it from public access 
  • The material has been found to contain personal or sensitive personal information and continued access would be unlawful or unfair under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or Human Rights Act 1998 
  • Material was opened/published online in good faith, but its reclosure or takedown is now considered appropriate owing to changed circumstances 
  • Material was released in error and reclosure or takedown is required to rectify a mistake 
  • Making the material available online is an infringement of copyright 
  • Online material is defamatory or obscene 
  • The material has acquired sensitivity by virtue of being made available online 
  • Continued access online would cause the owner serious and real administrative difficulties and the owner has requested takedown for a specified and limited period of time 

Access to original records being considered for reclosure will be temporarily restricted whilst a decision is being taken and the temporary access restriction will be indicated on the LMA catalogue. If reclosure is agreed, the access status will be amended. If the record is not recommended for reclosure, its status will revert to open. 

When assessing cases, the panel will also consider the age of the record, how long it has been in the public domain, whether the information is likely to be available elsewhere, and the public interest in withholding the record from public access. The panel will then come to a decision as to whether the record should remain available for public access or be closed in full or in part (if the latter applies, the rest of the record will be returned to public access). 

If a record is to be closed in full or in part the panel will also determine the date at which it should be released or its closure re-reviewed. 

The removal of online material for reasons of Data Protection or sensitivity will be considered temporary and may be restored at a date decided by the panel once its sensitivity is deemed to have subsided. 

The removal of material for reasons of copyright will be considered as lasting until copyright in the material expires or the rights-holder agrees that the material can be reinstated. 

This policy does not affect the statutory rights of members of the public to request information in closed records under Freedom of Information legislation or the Environmental Information Regulations 


Please complete a comment form or contact LMA if you wish to give feedback on this policy.

This policy will be reviewed at least every two years to make sure it remains timely and relevant. The policy was last reviewed in January 2022.