Leak: what's in the 'hippy prince''s Black Spider memos?

Tony Gosling tony at cultureshop.org.uk
Sun Jan 18 13:00:40 GMT 2015

Extract from much longer piece from last year

It is a habit that has put him in a precarious position. On 24 and 25 
November, the supreme court will be asked to decide whether Charles's 
letters to ministers should remain private. This may be the final 
chapter of a nine-year legal battle between the Guardian and the 
government over freedom of information laws. In 2005, this newspaper 
asked to see letters Charles had written to ministers in 2004 and 
2005. The government refused but revealed that Charles had sent 27 
letters to several departments over eight months. In October 2012 
Dominic Grieve, then attorney general, again vetoed release of the 
letters, arguing that the public might conclude Charles had been 
"disagreeing with government policy", which "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".
A former high-ranking government official, who is experienced in 
handling the prince's interaction with ministers, described the risk 
to Charles's kingship posed by publication as "quite large". There 
are, he said, "quite a lot of letters and they say some things that 
are quite zany".
One letter from February 2002, which was leaked to the Daily Mail, 
revealed Charles's strident approach. Writing to Lord Irvine, then 
lord chancellor in the Labour cabinet, he rubbished the Human Rights 
Act, suggesting that it was "only about the rights of individuals (I 
am unable to find a list of social responsibilities attached to it) 
and this betrays a fundamental distortion in social and legal 
thinking". In another letter to Lord Irvine, written in June 2001, he 
expressed his worry that the act "will only encourage people to take 
up causes which will make the pursuit of a sane, civilised and 
ordered existence ever more difficult", and added that "I, and 
countless others, dread the very real and growing prospect of an 
American-style personal injury culture becoming ever more prevalent 
in this country."

The 'black spider' memos: Government's last-ditch bid to keep Prince 
Charles' letters secret

Charles has 'a right to privacy' over his letters to ministers: 
Government lawyers argue Prince's notes must not be published because 
they are part of training to be King

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