Eight years ago, The Guardian submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to access 27 letters from the Prince of Wales to ministers within government with regard to his lobbying campa
Eight years ago, The Guardian submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to access 27 letters from the Prince of Wales to ministers within government with regard to his lobbying campaigns. Prince Charles has been accused of wanting to have influence in current government policies.
The request for the letters to be made public however was blocked by the government in a memo backed by the Cabinet after a freedom of information tribunal ruled for their publication because of the particular public interest, saying they should be private and could affect the perception of political impartiality held by the Prince, according to a Guardian report on the case, something held by most members of the Royal Family.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve said there could be an effect on Charles’ role as king, saying the letters “contain remarks about public affairs which would in my view, if revealed, have had a material effect upon the willingness of the government to engage in correspondence with the Prince of Wales, and would potentially have undermined his position of political neutrality,” according to a report in The Guardian.
Grieve added according to The Guardian report that it would have future effects on Charles when he became king. “Any such perception would be seriously damaging to his role as future monarch because if he forfeits his position of political neutrality as heir to the throne, he cannot easily recover it when he is king,” Grieve said.
Right to appeal
Yet, the decision was made on 25 July to allow a right for appeal in the case, after the High Court ruled that Grieve acted properly in the decision. A spokesperson for Guardian News and Media said the paper was intending to appeal to the High Court, saying the letters were considered to be in the public interest.
A spokesperson for Grieve’s office said they noted the decision by the Court and are to prepare for the hearing. The spokesperson declined to provide further comment beyond that statement. A spokesperson for Clarence House, Charles’ residence, declined to comment, saying the action involving The Guardian was a matter for the government.
As the case prepares to be heard later this year in a court of appeal, there are likely to be considerations. For The Guardian, they will need to explain why these letters are still in the public interest and what purpose would they serve if they are released. For Grieve and the government, they will need to explain why the letters by Charles do not deserve publication, any implications that would be taken against Charles’ credibility or perhaps any risk to the monarchy as a whole. The letters are said to be frank and contain very personal beliefs on issues that are important to the Prince of Wales.
While the debate on these letters and their release continues, when it reaches its conclusion, it may likely tell another story of Prince Charles, done in response to those who accuse him of being nicknamed ‘the meddling prince.’
The ball is now in the hands of the Court.