UK AG Blocks Release of Prince Charles Letters

19 October 2012

The United Kingdom Attorney General has blocked the release of 27 letters sent by Prince Charles to seven government departments.

A court ruled last month that the letters were “advocacy correspondence” and should be disclosed.

Disagreeing, AG Dominic Grieve wrote that the letters were part of the prince’s “preparations for kingship.” Grieve also said, “The ability of the Monarch to engage with the government of the day, whatever its political colour, and maintain political neutrality is a cornerstone of the UK’s constitutional framework.”

The 27 letters were called “particularly frank” by the AG, who said that if published they would “potentially have undermined his position of political neutrality.”

Guardian journalist Rob Evans sought letters between Prince Charles and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Department of Health, the Department for Children, Schools and Families (which is now the Department for Education), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Northern Ireland Office and the Cabinet Office.

The information commissioner had denied the request, but the Administrative Appeals Chamber said the commissioner had given “insufficient weight to the public interest.”

The matter is discussed in a blog by the UK Constitutional Law Group, another by FOIMan, and another by Mail Online’s Steve Doughty.

Since the AG’s decision, the Guardian has reported a story beginning, “Prince Charles communicated directly with a senior Labour cabinet minister to explicitly identify what he believed were gaps in public policy, and the government took his views into consideration, the Guardian has learned.”

A lengthy analysis of the case appears in the UK Human Rights blog,written by Mathew Finn.

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