Website background

The dive team from HMS Arethusa on Diego Garcia - June 1979 - led by Lt Richard Dunne RN

Purpose of this site

This site contains information often not available elsewhere. It has been obtained from a variety of sources, including the UK National Archives, other researchers, and Freedom of Information requests to UK and US authorities.

For many years, the British Government was content to allow the Chagos Archipelago and the British Indian Ocean Territory to remain hidden from the public view; - secret deals with the US Government; the appalling treatment of the indigenous Chagossian population, leading to their exile; and the refusal to give redress for past Government actions. Despite the great publicity that the territory and their former population has attracted in the recent decade, this attitude unfortunately persists. Secrecy has been replaced by suspicion that any information freely given might be used to undermine the United Kingdom's position or for bad publicity. Journalists continue to be banned from visiting the islands.

Proactive dissemination of environmental information

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) are required under UK Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation to pro-actively disseminate 'environmental information' that it holds about the Chagos. By its own admission it is not doing so, despite the fact that it has in its possession much information of potential interest. Its reasoning behind this refusal is explained on the page on this website "Freedom of Information Legislation". In the absence of meeting this obligation, this website in part helps to achieve this, with information which has been obtained under FOI requests. This is a slow and tortuous process, with the FCO dragging their heels and placing obstacles in the way.

If you have information that you think should appear on this site then please send it to the Website Editor. If you think anything is wrong then please also contact him.


As far as is known, none of the information posted on this site is copyright. Where the copyright is held by another person/organisation, a link is provided to the source and the document is not posted on this site.

Website Editor

Richard Dunne is a Barrister and coral reef scientist.

In 1975 he graduated from Cambridge University (Queens' College) after reading Natural Sciences followed by Law. He then served for 17 years in the Royal Navy before leaving in 1991 to pursue a career in coral reef science.

In 1975 he led the 12 man 'Cambridge Anegada Expedition' to study the coral reefs of the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, for which he was to receive the Cunningham Initiative Award from the Royal Navy. He was awarded the Gedge Medal, Lyddon Shield, and the Charles Dargaville Ballard Memorial Prize during his naval training.

In 1980 he studied at the Inns of Court School of Law in London and was called to the Bar in 1981 (Middle Temple).

His Royal Naval career involved 8 years in seagoing appointments with the remainder spent in shore appointments. Whilst serving in HMS Arethusa in 1979, his ship called at the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos en route to New Zealand. Most of his service career was in legal appointments, including appearing in over 100 Courts Martial as Prosecutor, Defence Counsel, and Judge Advocate. In 1991 he was the Legal Adviser to the Commander in Chief Fleet during the first Gulf War. Before leaving the Royal Navy he rewrote the Manual of Naval Law (Courts Martial). He specialised in Criminal Law, the Law of Armed Conflict, International Law of the Sea, and Humanitarian Law.

From 1991 to the present he has worked in the Indian Ocean on the coral reefs of the Maldives and Thailand. He has researched and published on the physiology and photobiology of corals, and their response to environmental parameters including sea temperature, sea level and solar irradiance. He has published over 40 papers in peer reviewed journals.

Since 2009 he has been actively involved in matters, both scientific and legal, in support of Chagossian rights.

He is a qualified BSAC 2nd Class diver and Joint Services Sub-Aqua Diving Supervisor.


Website Editor - Richard Dunne

In the Maldives 1990s, setting up solar radiation sensors.

At the Supreme Court in 2015 after the hearing in Bancoult (2).

Page last updated: 10 December 2020