Wiki Actu en

March 27, 2015

UK Supreme Court require government to release Prince Charles \’black spider\’ letters

UK Supreme Court require government to release Prince Charles ‘black spider’ letters

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Friday, March 27, 2015

United Kingdom
Related articles
Location of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom (orthographic projection).svg
Collaborate!
  • Pillars of Wikinews writing
  • Writing an article

Prince Charles
Image: Dan Marsh.

The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom have concluded yesterday that the government must release a series of 27 letters sent by Prince Charles to government ministers and that attempts to prevent their publication under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 have been unlawful.

The letters were sent to ministers of the previous Labour government in the years of 2004 and 2005 and contain advocacy that has been described as “particularly frank”. The Guardian newspaper have been attempting to have these letters released using freedom of information legislation for ten years.

Dominic Grieve
Image: Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

In 2012, the Attorney General Dominic Grieve blocked the publication of the letters despite a ruling from the information tribunal that the release of the letters is in the public interest. Grieve’s statement at the time argued Prince Charles’ correspondence was “of very considerable practical benefit” to his “preparations for kingship” as “such correspondence and dialogue will assist him in fulfilling his duties”. Grieve went on to argue correspondence of this nature “must be under conditions of confidentiality” otherwise both the Prince and government ministers “will feel seriously inhibited from exchanging views candidly and frankly”. The statement from Grieve asserts “The Prince of Wales is party-political neutral” and “it is highly important that he is not considered by the public to favour one political party or another”, but that if the letters were released there would be the risk he would be “viewed by others as disagreeing with government policy” and “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.”

Lord Neuberger, who gave the opinion of the majority of the court.
Image: National Assembly for Wales.

Lord Neuberger, in giving the majority decision of the court, stated the Attorney General could not veto the release “merely because he, a member of the executive, considering the same facts and arguments, takes a different view from that taken by the tribunal or court”. Neuberger said the legislation’s veto power did not go so far as to “enable a member of the executive to over-ride a judicial decision” and that the Attorney General “proceeded on the basis of findings which differed radically from those made by the upper tribunal without real or adequate explanation.”

Appeal judges had subsequently ruled this veto on the part of the Attorney General to be unlawful, and the further appeal by the government to the Supreme Court has been unsuccessful. The government is required to release the documents within 30 days, although it is possible some of the contents may be redacted.

A spokeswoman for the Prince of Wales stated the ruling is “a matter for the Government” but that the Prince is “disappointed the principle of privacy has not been upheld.”

Prime Minister David Cameron said the decision was “disappointing”: “This is about the principle that senior members of the Royal Family are able to express their views to government confidentially. I think most people would agree this is fair enough.”

A spokeswoman for Cameron elaborated: “The prime minister has been very clear this morning it is a deeply disappointing judgment. He doesn’t agree with it. He thinks what’s at stake here is an important principle about the ability of senior members of the royal family to express their views to government confidentially. He thinks that’s a principle that we should uphold. So while we have taken steps in this parliament to strengthen the ability to do that through the FOI act, if there needs to be more done to make that clear, then the prime minister is clear those steps should happen in the next parliament.”

The legislation was already amended in 2010 to make it so that correspondence and other matters related to the Royal family are exempt from further freedom of information requests. Graham Smith, from Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, argues there needs to be greater transparency over the Royal Family’s affairs: “The court has defended democratic principles over the interests of the royal family and that needs to be enshrined in law. David Cameron’s response is worrying because he says he wants to tighten up the veto.”

The Labour MP Paul Flynn raised the possibility the ruling might have consequences for Charles’ suitability to be King: “If there are serious questions about the suitability of Prince Charles as a monarch there could be a question in the public mind about whether to skip a generation. The attorney general already said the main justification for keeping the letters secret was they would hinder Charles’s ability to be a successful monarch.”



Related news

Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

October 18, 2012

Attorney General vetos release of Prince Charles correspondence

Attorney General vetos release of Prince Charles correspondence

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Thursday, October 18, 2012

United Kingdom
Related articles
  • 26 June 2015: Former Scottish Conservatives leader Annabel Goldie to stand down as MSP
  • 25 June 2015: Petition pressures City of Edinburgh Council to review clause affecting live music scene
  • 13 June 2015: English actor Christopher Lee dies aged 93
  • 6 June 2015: Major haemorrhage linked to alcoholism announced as cause of Charles Kennedy’s death
  • 4 June 2015: Charles Kennedy, former Liberal Democrats leader, dies aged 55
Location of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom (orthographic projection).svg
Collaborate!
  • Pillars of Wikinews writing
  • Writing an article

Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General for England and Wales, has vetoed a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to release correspondence sent by Prince Charles to government ministers while Tony Blair was Prime Minister from September 2004 to April 2005.

Prince Charles
Image: Dan Marsh.

The decision by the Attorney General overturns a previous decision by the Administrative Appeals Chamber which said there was a public interest in publishing the letters.

In a statement, Grieve made a case for it being in the public interest to not release the documents. He noted that the publication of the Prince’s correspondence would damage his preparation for kingship by damaging the public perception that he is “party-political neutral” by showing the Prince disagreeing with the policies of the government. Grieve then stated “[a]ny 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’s statement did note that the letters from Prince Charles “reflect his personal and deeply held views and convictions” and “are in many cases particularly frank” but notes there is “nothing improper in the nature or content of these letters”.

Cquote1.svg [the] decision is a serious affront to British democracy Cquote2.svg

—Graham Smith

The Freedom of Information Act request was made by Rob Evans, a journalist writing for The Guardian. The Guardian stated they intend to take the government to court to challenge Grieve’s decision.

Graham Smith from the anti-monarchist group Republic said, “[the] decision is a serious affront to British democracy”. Smith argued: “Grieve has said this is about protecting prince Charles’s impartiality, but that impartiality doesn’t exist. Charles has made that clear. This decision is about pretending Charles is impartial while he continues to lobby in favour of his own political agenda. If Grieve believes Charles to be impartial then let him prove it by allowing the release of these documents.”

Prince Charles has been criticised in the past for repeated use of his power and influence. The architect Richard Rogers claimed that the Prince, who has strongly traditionalist views on architecture, repeatedly intervened to have projects cancelled which he was working on. Rogers criticised the decision not to release Charles’ correspondence: “It is not democratic to cover up his interventions.”



Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

March 6, 2011

UK\’s most-read papers found to be in contempt of court

UK’s most-read papers found to be in contempt of court

From Wikinews, the free news source you can write!
Jump to: navigation, search

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Royal Courts of Justice, where the High Court sits in London and heard the case against the tabloids

The Sun and The Daily Mailtabloid newspapers that are the most-read papers in the UK — have been found to be in contempt of court by the High Court in London. The case is thought to be a landmark decision regarding Internet publishing.

The case dates back to November 2009, when Ryan Ward was on trial before Sheffield Crown Court, accused of murdering Craig Wass. The prosecution case was that Ward hit Wass with a brick, and no firearms allegation was made against Ward at trial, but both titles placed a photograph on their websites of Ward with a gun.

Cquote1.svg We conclude that the nature of the photograph created a substantial risk of prejudicing any juror who saw that photograph against the defendant Ward Cquote2.svg

—High Court

The papers took the image off their sites within hours, after being ordered to do so. The trial judge, His Honour Judge Michael Murphy QC, who had previously ordered the jury not to consult the Internet, did not halt the prosecution as he felt “satisfied” the jury hadn’t seen the picture. Ward was convicted.

Lawyers for Associated Newspapers and News Group Newspapers — respective owners of The Daily Mail and the The Sun — had argued in their defence that using the photo posed an “insubstantial” risk of prejudice, denying contempt although accepting they made “a mistake”.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve had described “seriously impeded or prejudiced” proceedings had jurors accessed the photos. Angus McCullough QC represented Grieve, telling the court the “strict liability” provisions of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 had been breached.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve brought the action against the papers

High Court judges Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Owen Thursday sided with Grieve and McCullough: “We conclude that the nature of the photograph created a substantial risk of prejudicing any juror who saw that photograph against the defendant Ward.”

Cquote1.svg [A] freelance journalist, then working for the website, added the photograph without taking any legal advice Cquote2.svg

The Daily Mail

Lord Justice Moses’ judgment mentioned the significance of the case in regards to online publications: “The criminal courts have been troubled by the dangers to the integrity and fairness of a criminal trial, where juries can obtain such easy access to the internet and to other forms of instant communication. Once information is published on the Internet, it is difficult if not impossible completely to remove it… This case demonstrates the need to recognise that instant news requires instant and effective protection for the integrity of a criminal trial.”

The Daily Mail’s website covered the ruling in an article in which they also offered an explanation for how they published the photograph. “[A] journalist had submitted an article about the prosecution along with the photograph by e-mail, including a warning stating the handgun should not be included in any copy of the photograph as it would prejudice the trial,” it reads. “But when the story was put up online a freelance journalist, then working for the website, added the photograph without taking any legal advice.”

The penalties for Associated Newspapers and News Group Newspapers will be considered by the judges later.



Sources

Bookmark-new.svg


This text comes from Wikinews. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 licence. For a complete list of contributors for this article, visit the corresponding history entry on Wikinews.

Powered by WordPress