In a legal development that has captured attention, the Duke of Sussex, Prince Harry, and his legal team have asserted that the decision to deny him the opportunity to privately finance his police protection while in the UK was an unlawful act. This announcement comes as Prince Harry launches a second legal challenge against the Home Office, seeking to challenge the handling of his security arrangements.
During a high court hearing held in London, Prince Harry’s lawyers argued vehemently for the green light to proceed with a case against the executive committee for the protection of royalty and public figures, referred to as Ravec in court documents. The crux of the matter centered around the committee’s decision to prohibit individuals from privately funding their own protective security. The Duke’s legal team contended that this decision clashed with the 1996 Police Act, which permits the “chief officer of the police” to provide specialized police services “subject to payment.”
The Home Office’s legal representatives argued against allowing “wealthy people” to essentially “purchase” specialist armed police protective security, deeming it inappropriate. The duke’s lawyers, however, countered that Ravec’s decision contradicted the express provisions within the Police Act, which allowed for payment for such services. They further contended that Ravec failed to provide any principled or rational basis for distinguishing between the provision of protective security for individuals within the Ravec cohort, who were denied private funding for security, and other private individuals who could make such requests to the chief officer of police.
Shaheed Fatima KC, representing Prince Harry, emphasized that the case raised an “important issue of principle” and pointed out the inconsistency in Ravec’s argument. Ravec claimed that permitting payment for protective security would be contrary to the public interest and erode public confidence in the Metropolitan Police Service. However, Fatima argued that such reasoning was incompatible with the fact that Parliament explicitly allowed for payment for these services.
During the court proceedings, Matthew Butt KC, representing the Metropolitan Police, asserted that specialist policing exposed officers to “unique risks” and stressed that Ravec determined what served the public interest. He argued that it would be unjustifiable for officers to face such risks solely because a policing body received financial compensation, emphasizing that the decision must align with the public interest.
Amidst written submissions, the Metropolitan Police expressed their opposition to a policing body putting officers in harm’s way in exchange for a fee from a private individual. The presiding judge, Mr. Justice Chamberlain, questioned the distinction between seeking special policing for private events on private land, such as festivals, celebrity weddings, or football matches, and the requirement for personal protection. Prince Harry’s lawyer clarified that the case did not pertain to a bodyguard but rather the need for protection at specific locations.
Prince Harry contended that Ravec’s decision was unlawful, unreasonable, and that he was not given an opportunity to be consulted prior to the decision being made. Robert Palmer KC, representing the Home Office, countered that the decision was lawful and simply represented the establishment of a policy principle. Palmer highlighted the legal ambiguity surrounding whether the provision of protective security fell under the relevant section of the Police Act.
Palmer further explained that the funding decision arose due to the claimant’s suggestion that he would be willing to privately finance the protective security he sought from the Metropolitan Police Service. Ravec, composed of senior officials from the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police, and the royal household, asserted that it was not appropriate to allow affluent individuals to “buy” protective security from specialist police officers, including armed officers, when the public interest did not warrant such publicly funded security.
Palmer argued that Ravec was not obligated to provide Harry the chance to make representations, stating, “Given the nature of the arguments now advanced by the claimant, the court can be confident that such representations would have been highly likely to have made no substantial difference in any event.”
Moreover, Palmer highlighted that the funding decision did not prevent any individual, including Prince Harry, from directly applying to any chief officer and attempting to persuade them to provide protective security as a special police service. He acknowledged that the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) had indicated in their summary grounds that such an application would likely be refused, considering their alignment with the principle concerns outlined in the funding decision.
This legal case is one of several civil cases that Prince Harry is pursuing through the London courts, as he seeks to address various matters of importance. The ruling on this specific case will be delivered by the judge, Mr. Justice Chamberlain, at a later date, further heightening the anticipation surrounding this legal battle.