It is reported that Prince Charles’s ‘Black Spider Memos’ will be delayed for release and may not be made available to the public until July. A decision needs to be made first on how much of the letters were attempting to influence policy.
A total of 30 letters were written by Prince Charles to seven departments between 1st September 2004 and 1st April 2005. On 26th May the Supreme Court ruled that 27 of those 30 letters would be released to the public, after a decade long battle started by the Guardian newspaper.
There is only one legal issue that stands in the way, as it is yet to be decided how much of the letters need to be blacked out in-order to preserve the privacy of the undisclosed individuals mentioned.
On Wednesday, officials announced that any remaining legal problems should be resolved by 31st July, thus setting a schedule for submissions to be lodged with the freedom of information tribunal that will settle the issue.
The government and the Guardian’s lawyers have been given a timetable in which they must make written submissions about how much of the letters they feel should be blacked out. The lawyers for the government are required to identify each individual whose privacy should be protected and why.
A spokesman for the tribunal said: “At this stage there is no indication whether there will be a need to hold any further hearings and the tribunal has not given any directions as to a deadline for release of the letters. However, the tribunal expects that any issues should be resolved by 31st July 2015.”
In September 2012, the tribunal ruled that the letters should be made public, saying: “The essential reason is that it will generally be in the overall public interest for there to be transparency as to how and when Prince Charles seeks to influence government.”
Dominic Grieve, the then attorney general, overruled the tribunal and vetoed the publication of the letters in October 2012. The Guardian then challenged Grieve’s use of veto under the freedom of information act, and won at the supreme court.
Despite all those against Prince Charles, there have been those who have step out in defence of the Prince. John Prescott, the then Deputy Prime Minister responsible for transport and the environment, has said he “didn’t mind receiving them” and that “Charles has a lot to offer this country”.
Photo Credit: Royal Central © Chloe Howard 2014 via Flickr