Prince Harry was told by the Home Office that there are things money can’t buy, including personal armed police guards.
The estranged duke is pressing ahead with a legal bid to keep, when he was in Britain, the armed unit of the Royal and Specialist Protection Command (RASP) that protected him when he was a working royal, before the bitter row with his family.
When he was told he was no longer eligible for protection after he left for America with wife Meghan, his offer to pay for it was declined. Now he is pleading in court that he should have done so, just as football clubs pay agents to maintain order at matches.
But a lawyer for the Home Secretary told London’s Royal Courts of Justice that the Duke of Sussex’s offer to pay for the Metropolitan Police’s expert protection had been rightly rejected, saying it would set an “unacceptable” precedent.
Robert Palmer KC told the court, including three lawyers representing Prince Harry: “Officers are expected to put themselves in danger to protect the principal [Royal under protection] and in the public interest.
Prince Harry is fighting in court after his attempt to hire the Royal and Specialist Protection Command’s (RASP) armed unit was turned down
The Duke was told he was no longer eligible for RASP protection after he left for America with wife Meghan
“It is different from ordinary police work and can only be provided if the public interest requires it.
‘It is contrary to those principles that a private individual can pay for that security.’
If Prince Harry were allowed to pay for the RASP’s armed unit to guard him, it would mean that such protections are available to the wealthy, but not to those with less money.
“It would be detrimental to public confidence in the police to provide this,” the interior minister’s lawyer added.
Prince Harry is currently embroiled in six court cases at London’s High Court, most of them involving media attention.
He already has another in the making over the refusal to keep his armed guards on home visits from California — and a judicial review of the initial decision that he was no longer eligible for free protection is due soon.
Today he launched a new aligned case, seeking a judicial review of the decision not to allow him to pay for the guards.
He claims that the royalty protection executive committee, RAVEC, did not have the authority to reject his money offer, and that it should instead be reconsidered by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
When he was told he was no longer eligible for protection after he left for America with wife Meghan, his offer to pay for it was declined. (Pictured: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle with security in Rotorua, New Zealand, in 2018)
His lead lawyer Shaheed Fatima KC told the court that ‘the process makes no sense’ as anyone else would have applied directly to the commissioner asking for protection, indeed offering to pay.
The way he had been rejected, the lawyer said, suggested “that he is being treated less favorably than everyone else.”
And she argued that there was clear precedent for police being paid to provide officers elsewhere, with examples of court hearings being football games, festivals, marathons, bike races and even a celebrity wedding.
Ms Fatima added that it was wrong that Prince Harry was not invited to submit arguments and evidence to RAVEC, which oversees the work of the RASP armed protection command.
The Home Office argued that RAVEC was under no obligation to consider submissions from anyone, pointing out that representatives of the royal family are on the committee, along with a senior police officer.
And it has pointed out that it would not accept offers from anyone to pay for such specialist armed police security, as the decision is a general principle, not just applicable to Prince Harry.
Mr Palmer KC said the committee felt that ‘it was not appropriate to support an outcome where wealthy individuals could ‘buy’ protective security from specialist police officers.
That would be exactly the effect of the [duke’s] claim.’
The Home Office argued that RAVEC was under no obligation to consider submissions from anyone, pointing out that representatives of the royal family are on the committee, along with a senior police officer
Ms Fatima said the estranged Royal first offered to pay for his own British safety during a meeting with palace staff in January 2020 – the month in which he and Meghan announced they were relinquishing official duties and going to live abroad.
But the Metropolitan Police Service told the court it supported the Home Office’s decision on Prince Harry’s claim.
Matthew Butt KC, for the Met, told the judge: “It is wrong for a police agency to endanger officers against payment of a private individual.
“It would be unjust to make a wealthy client pay for private security, while doing so would deny a client who does not benefit from such resources and divert resources away from those who are supposed to warrant protective security.
And making an individual pay for private security would set a precedent. Other wealthy individuals might say that they should be able to pay too.’
The judgment was reserved and will be entered into Prince Harry’s parallel case, arguing that he primarily qualifies for armed police protection.
He is now prosecuting no fewer than SIX cases in the Supreme Court
Prince Harry is prosecuting no fewer than six Supreme Court cases, two of which were heard simultaneously yesterday.
If the Duke of Sussex had been present, instead of following the progress from far into California, he would have jumped between the courtrooms.
In Court 3 of the Royal Courts of Justice, on the Strand, Harry’s lawyers tried to convince Mr Justice Chamberlain to allow him to prosecute some aspect of his case against the Home Office because he had police bodyguards on him denied.
At the same time, around the corner in Court 15 of the Rolls Building, Harry’s lawyer David Sherborne told Mr Justice Fancourt why new testimony should be allowed in his phone hacking case against the publisher of the Daily Mirror. Judge Fancourt rejected Harry’s attorney’s application, saying it was “contrary to the interests of justice.” Here are all six pending actions from the Duke Supreme Court:
home office 1
Harry lost his Metropolitan Police bodyguards after walking away from his duties as a full-time member of the royal family in 2020. He says he no longer feels safe in the UK and has been granted the right to a judicial review of the Home Office’s decision. Harry claims ‘procedural dishonesty’. There will be a full Supreme Court hearing to review the Duke’s claim at a date yet to be determined. The legal bill to taxpayers has so far been estimated at over £100,000.
home office 2
Harry’s lawyers went back to court against the Home Office yesterday, claiming he should have paid for the police protection he says he owes in the Home Office’s first case.
Case 3 of the home office: ‘libel’ in the newspaper
Harry is suing the Mail on Sunday newspaper over an article it published about the aforementioned Home Office case. The duke claims it falsely accused him of trying to mislead the public. The newspaper rejects the allegations. The prince has urged justice Nicklin to have the case decided in his favor without trial. The judge will soon rule.
Against the sun
The Prince is suing News Group Newspapers, publishers of The Sun and the now-defunct News Of The World, for allegedly unlawful information gathering, including phone hacking. At a hearing last month, the publisher asked a judge to dismiss its claim, arguing it was filed too late, along with a similar claim from Hugh Grant. A decision is expected later this year.
… As well as The Mail
Harry is one of seven people, including Sir Elton John, Sadie Frost, Liz Hurley and Baroness Doreen Lawrence, to take legal action against Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Mail, Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, over allegations that it has conducted or commissioned hacking and other unlawful information gathering. All allegations are denied and the judge must decide whether the case should go to trial.
… And the mirror
There is a seven week process. The prince and three others claim they were targeted by journalists at the Mirror titles during an “industrial-scale” period of illegal information gathering, including phone hacking, in the 1990s and 2000s. But the publisher says many of the stories Harry complains about come from other royals, palace courtiers, and in one instance an interview Harry himself gave to the Press Association on the occasion of his 18th birthday.