The Duke of Sussex took the Home Office to court after being told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting from the US, even after offering to pay for it himself. The Duke, who now lives in Los Angeles, has previously claimed that he, wife Meghan, and their children are “unable to return” to his UK homeland because it is too dangerous.
Prince Harry is challenging the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures – known as Ravec – over his security.
At a preliminary hearing last month, the High Court in London heard an application by both sides for some parts of the court documents in the case to be kept private.
In a judgment on Thursday, Mr Justice Swift said parts of court documents in the case should be kept confidential – including a confidential witness statement made by Harry.
But after the judgment was made public, Mr Justice Swift criticised Harry’s legal team for breaking the embargo on the document – an agreement when a document can be made public knowledge.
Mr Justice Swift said a copy of Thursday’s ruling had been emailed to someone who was not a lawyer, against court rules, calling this “entirely unacceptable”.
Shaheed Fatima QC, for the duke, said she and her team were unsure about whether sending the draft judgment last week was a breach, but had decided to report it to the judge on Wednesday.
However, the senior judge said it was a “clear breach” and questioned why it had not been raised immediately.
Mr Justice Swift continued: “It should have been obvious that what happened was a breach. At the very least, it should have been obvious that it needed to be reported to the judge, me, at as soon as possible.”
“It is also unacceptable that you come without an apology to the court,” he later said.
Ms Fatima said she took full responsibility and apologised “for the fact that I didn’t think fully before the emails were sent”.
The duke and his Meghan live in the US with their children Archie and Lilibet after quitting as senior working royals in early 2020.
Harry briefly returned from Los Angeles last year for the 1 July unveiling of the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial statue, and the day before he met seriously ill children and young people at a garden party and afternoon tea in Kew Gardens, west London.
Regarding the privacy of some of the case’s documents, the judge said: “Some of the information relied on concerns security arrangements put in place either for the claimant or for other public figures in the United Kingdom.
“For obvious reasons information on such matters usually remains confidential.”
Mr Justice Swift said that some parts of his reasons for the decision would have to remain confidential as well.
He added that not editing out security procedure information from court documents would “impair the effectiveness of arrangements in place now, or which may be put in place in the future”.
He continued: “Information about these matters would self-evidently be of interest to anyone wishing to harm a person …. and assist them to piece together previous practice with a view to anticipating present or future security provision.”
Thursday’s ruling only covers the redaction of documents and does not decide the merits of duke’s claim against the Home Office, or if it can go to a full hearing.
At a hearing last month, Ms Fatima told the court that Harry considers the UK “is and always will be his home”.
A representative for Harry previously said the duke wants to fund the security himself, rather than ask taxpayers to foot the bill.
However, Robert Palmer QC, for the Home Office, previously told the court the duke’s offer of private funding was “irrelevant”.
In written submissions, he said: “Personal protective security by the police is not available on a privately financed basis, and Ravec does not make decisions on the provision of such security on the basis that any financial contribution could be sought or obtained to pay for it.”