LONDON (TIP): The UK Supreme Court today ruled that the 27 highly sensitive letters written by Prince Charles to the government can be published, in a potential setback for the future king.
The UK’s highest court was asked to judge whether the UK Attorney General’s office acted unlawfully when it prevented their publication back in 2012.
The ‘Guardian’ newspaper sought disclosure of the letters, written to government departments between 2004 and 2005. The office of the prince, Clarence House, said it was “disappointed the principle of privacy had not been upheld”. It has been argued that releasing the so-called “black spider memos” a reference to the prince’s handwriting would undermine his neutral political status as heir to Britain’s throne.
Black spider memos, are a series of letters and memos written by 66-year-old Charles, Prince of Wales, to British government ministers and politicians.
The ‘Guardian’ led a campaign saying it had been “pressing the government” for 10 years to see the letters, written by the prince to seven government departments.
Former Attorney General Dominic Grieve has said that any perception the prince had disagreed with the then Labour government in 2004-5 “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”.
The judgment from the Supreme Court is the latest step in a fierce 10-year legal battle.
In 2005, ‘Guardian’ journalist Rob Evans submitted a Freedom of Information request to find out how many letters Prince Charles had written to MPs between September 2004 and April 2005.
“There’s a lot of talk and speculation about what Prince Charles writes to the Government about and I just think actually we should get to see those letters and be able to make up our own minds, whether or not we think he should be doing that and whether or not they’re important,” he said. Last year, judges at the Court of Appeal ruled the Attorney General, on behalf of the government, had “no good reason” to stop the 27 letters from being released.
But in a final attempt to prevent their publication, the government has turned to the Supreme Court to ask them to overturn that ruling.