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Black Spider Freedom of Information Alan Rusbridger

Guardian emerges victorious in Prince Charles ‘black spider’ freedom of information battle


By John McCarthy, Opinion Editor

May 13, 2015 | 2 min read

A decade-long battle by the Guardian to have a cache of letters sent by Prince Charles to a number of UK ministers has been won following a Supreme Court ruling calling for the documents to be released to the publication.

The court battle, which cost the UK government more than £400,000 in a long-fought legal battle, was engaged to protect the future-king’s “position of political neutrality”, according to the Guardian.

27 memos to ministers and government departments, sent between September 2004 to April 2005, requested by reporter Rob Evans, have now been released to the publication.

The Guardian editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, said: “We fought this case because we believed – and the most senior judges in the country agreed – that the royal family should operate to the same degrees of transparency as anyone else trying to make their influence felt in public life.

“The attorney general, in trying to block the letters, said their contents could ‘seriously damage’ perceptions of the prince’s political neutrality. Whatever the rights and wrongs of that assessment, it is shocking that the government wasted hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money trying to prevent their publication.

“Now, after 10 years, we are pleased to be able to share the contents of his correspondence and let people draw their own conclusions.”

Clarence House said the release of the memos "can only inhibit his ability to express the concerns and suggestions which have been put to him in the course of his travels and meetings".

Findings from the documents - which will likely be reported on in earnest - could harm the prince’s neutrality when if he enters power. However, they will be published with a number of redactions.

Black Spider Freedom of Information Alan Rusbridger

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