Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, has lost his bid for a second legal challenge against the Home Office over his security arrangements when in the UK.
The ruling on Tuesday came amid an ongoing High Court trial involving the duke, in which he is bringing a contested claim against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) over allegations of unlawful information gathering.
He is also awaiting rulings on whether similar cases against Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL) and News Group Newspapers (NGN) – which publishes The Sun – can proceed.
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The High Court in London reached a decision in Harry’s case against the British government on Tuesday following an initial hearing last week.
The Duke of Sussex sought the go-ahead from the High Court to secure a judicial review over a decision that he should not be allowed to pay privately for his protective security.
The Home Office – responsible for policing, immigration and security – decided in February 2020 that the prince would stop receiving personal police security while in Britain, even if he were to cover the cost himself.
The High Court, which last year already agreed he should be allowed to challenge an original decision to end the protection, ruled he could not also seek a judicial review over whether to let him pay for the specialist police officers himself.
At a hearing earlier this month, a judge was asked by Harry’s legal team to allow the duke to bring a case over decisions taken by the Home Office and the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) – which falls under the remit of the department – in December 2021 and February 2022.
The Home Office, opposing Harry’s claim, said Ravec considered it was “not appropriate” for wealthy people to “buy” protective security, which might include armed officers when it had decided that “the public interest does not warrant” someone receiving such protection on a publicly funded basis.
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Lawyers for the Metropolitan Police, an interested party in the case, said Ravec had been “reasonable” in finding “it is wrong for a policing body to place officers in harm’s way upon payment of a fee by a private individual”.
However, the duke’s legal team argued Ravec’s view – that allowing payment for protective security would be contrary to the public interest and undermine public confidence in the Met Police – could not be reconciled with rules which expressly permit charging for certain police services.
The judge, Mr Justice Chamberlain, said in his ruling: “In my judgment, the short answer to this point is that Ravec did not say that it would be contrary to the public interest to allow wealthy individuals to pay for any police services.
“It can be taken to have understood that s. 25(1) (of the Police Act 1996), to which it referred, expressly envisages payment for some such services.
“Its reasoning was narrowly confined to the protective security services that fall within its remit.
“Those services are different in kind from the police services provided at, for example, sporting or entertainment events, because they involve the deployment of highly trained specialist officers, of whom there are a limited number, and who are required to put themselves in harm’s way to protect their principals.
“Ravec’s reasoning was that there are policy reasons why those services should not be made available for payment, even though others are.
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“I can detect nothing that is arguably irrational in that reasoning.”
The ruling comes less than a week after Harry’s spokesperson said he, together with his wife Meghan Markle and her mother, Doria Ragland, were involved in a “near catastrophic” car chase with paparazzi after attending an awards ceremony in New York.
However, differing accounts of the alleged event have emerged amid suggestions the Sussex’s account is “overblown”.
Picture agency Backgrid denied the couple’s demands to hand over photographs and footage of the “chase” – reportedly telling Harry he cannot issue commands “as perhaps Kings can do”.