April 21st, 2024

Prince Harry wasn’t unfairly stripped of UK security detail after he moved to the US, a judge rules

By Brian Melley, The Associated Press on February 28, 2024.

FILE - Britain's Prince Harry leaves the Royal Courts Of Justice in London, Tuesday, March 28, 2023. Prince Harry was not improperly stripped of his publicly funded security detail during visits to Britain after he gave up his status as a working member of the royal family and moved to the U.S., a London judge ruled Wednesday Feb. 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

LONDON (AP) – Prince Harry ‘s fight for publicly funded protection was rejected Wednesday by a London judge who said the U.K. government didn’t act irrationally in deciding to strip him of security privileges after he quit his role working as a member of the royal family and moved to the U.S.

Harry plans to appeal the ruling.

High Court Judge Peter Lane said the February 2020 decision to provide security to the Duke of Sussex on an as-needed basis wasn’t unlawful, irrational or unjustified.

“Insofar as the case-by-case approach may otherwise have caused difficulties, they have not been shown to be such as to overcome the high hurdle so as to render the decision-making irrational,” Lane wrote in the 51-page ruling.

A spokesperson for Harry said that he planned to appeal the ruling and keep challenging the decision made by the group known by the acronym of its former name, the Royal and VIP Executive Committee, or RAVEC.

“The Duke is not asking for preferential treatment, but for a fair and lawful application of RAVEC’s own rules, ensuring that he receives the same consideration as others in accordance with RAVEC’s own written policy,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Harry claimed in the lawsuit that he and his family were endangered when visiting the U.K. because of hostility toward him and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, on social media and relentless hounding by news media.

His lawyer argued that RAVEC, which is made up of members of the royal family staff, the Metropolitan Police and several government offices, acted irrationally and failed to follow its own policies that should have required a risk analysis of the duke’s safety.

A government lawyer said Harry had been treated fairly and was still provided protection on some visits, citing a security detail that guarded him in June 2021 when he was chased by photographers after attending an event with seriously ill children at Kew Gardens in west London.

The committee considered the wider impact that the “tragic death” of his mother, the late Princess Diana, had on the nation, and in making its decision gave greater weight to the “likely significant public upset were a successful attack” on her son to happen, attorney James Eadie said.

Harry, 39, the younger son of King Charles III, has broken ranks with royal family tradition in his willingness to go to court to challenge the government and take on tabloids in his effort to hold publishers accountable for hounding him throughout his life.

The lawsuit was one of six cases Harry has brought in the High Court, including three related to his security arrangements that have all failed or been dropped.

Harry failed to persuade a different judge last year that he should be able to privately pay for London’s police force to guard him when he comes to town. A judge denied that offer after a government lawyer argued that officers shouldn’t be used as “private bodyguards for the wealthy.”

He recently withdrew a libel case against the Daily Mail over an article that said he tried to hide his efforts to continue receiving government-funded security. Harry dropped the case after a judge ruled he was more likely to lose at trial, because the publisher could show that statements issued on his behalf were misleading and that the February 2022 article reflected an “honest opinion” and wasn’t libelous.

His other three cases have shown more promise in taking on newspaper publishers that he said hacked phones and used private investigators to snoop on his life for sensational news stories.

In his first case to go to trial, Harry won a big victory in December after a judge found phone hacking was “widespread and habitual” at Mirror Group Newspapers.

He won a judgment in court and recently settled remaining allegations that were due to go to trial. While the payout was undisclosed, he was to be reimbursed for all his legal fees and was due to receive an interim payment of 400,000 pounds ($505,000).

The publishers of The Sun and Daily Mail face trials on similar allegations.

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