|Dom with his silly hat on|
Dominic Grieve’s has had his refusal to allow the public see letters between the Prince of Wales and government ministers ruled unlawful by three judges. Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, and two other judges, Lord Justice Richards and Lord Justice Pitchford, ruled that Mr Grieve had "no good reason" for overriding a previous decision to allow publication made by the Upper Tribunal (part of the court system) and that he (Grieve) had acted in a way which was incompatible with European law.
But the case is not yet finished. Grieve has decided to spend more taxpayers’ money taking the case to the Supreme Court because he thinks there are important principles at stake in the case. I suspect that this is less about principles and more about the fact that Charles wants everything done his way, come what may; that despite his years of training at his mother’s hand, he still believes he is living in the times of Henry VIII, and he should be able to instruct the cabinet of his wishes and that Her Majesty's loyal government doesn't want the public to know this.
|Charlie with a silly hat and loads|
of medals for... erm... being Charlie
I’m not always a big fan of the Guardian but it is perusing this case with vigour and quite rightly so. It wants the communications between Charles and ministers to be a matter of public record. The newspaper reckons that the public has a right to know if the heir to the throne is advocating policy or promoting causes to government ministers.
I accept that not everything the government does can be made public. Clearly there are discussions, emails, letters and phone calls, made by ministers on behalf of the public, which must remain secret. I respect that in cases where state security, commercial sensitivity or personal details are involved information cannot be released, or can only be released in redacted form. But I don’t accept that this can be used in a blanket form to cover all communications ever sent by Charles. And I do think that government must remember that it is paid by us to run the country. That is to say WE employ it. It doesn't have a god given right to keep information to itself.
We have long been led to believe that the monarch has the right to be consulted, to advise and to warn, and we have, to a greater or lesser extent, accepted this. We would be foolish not to expect the heir to the throne to be involved in the government’s business; one day, possibly without any notice, he will be required to do it for himself. But recently it has come to light that, in fact, the Queen and her eldest son have far greater powers than we had imagined to have legislation altered, and that they have both used that power on a relatively regular basis to interfere with what we laughingly call democratic government. (An unelected head of state with power; a unelected house of aristocrats; and a house of commoners elected on a FPTP system where 60+% of seats never change hands.)
|The Queen with an equally silly, but far more expensive hat|
Nothing can be done about the letters until the case is heard in the Supreme Court. Grieve is clearly desperate to get the result he wants, and frankly I have no confidence at all that undue pressure will not be applied to ensure that it goes his way.
It seems that, given the time and money the government is putting into this, that the contents of the letter would be extremely damaging to either the government or Charles and the Queen. All the more reason why we should demand to see them.
Forewarned is forearmed.