Supreme Court to rule on publication of Prince Charles letters

Prince Charles Image copyright EPA
Image caption The prince wrote to seven government departments

The Supreme Court is to rule next week on whether Prince Charles's letters to government should be made public.

The Attorney General's Office is appealing against a Court of Appeal ruling that it unlawfully prevented letters being released.

Guardian journalist Rob Evans applied to see letters to seven government departments written in 2004 and 2005.

But it has been argued that releasing the letters would undermine the principle of the heir being neutral.

The Guardian newspaper said it had been "pressing the government" for nine years to see the letters, written by the Prince of Wales between September 2004 and April 2005.

Mr Evans's requests, under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, were initially denied by the information commissioner.

But several legal decisions followed:

  • In September 2012 the Upper Tribunal ruled that Mr Evans and the public were entitled to see "advocacy correspondence" from the prince (27 out of the 30 letters)
  • The seven government departments concerned did not appeal but Dominic Grieve, then attorney general, imposed a veto
  • In March 2014, three Court of Appeal judges unanimously ruled that Mr Grieve had "no good reason" for using the ministerial veto
  • Seven justices at the Supreme Court in London then heard a challenge by current Attorney General Jeremy Wright QC against the Court of Appeal ruling

Using his veto in 2012, Mr Grieve said any perception that the prince had disagreed with the then Labour government "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".

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