Government ‘scandalously wasted’ £274,000 in battle over publication of Charles’ letters

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More than a quarter of a million pounds of taxpayers’ money has been “scandalously wasted” by the Government trying to prevent the publication of the Prince of Wales’s letters to Ministers.

Eight Government departments have spent a total of £274,481.16 so far on legal fees trying to prevent the release of Charles’s letters, Attorney General Dominic Grieve has disclosed.

Labour MP Paul Flynn, who unearthed the figures using a written parliamentary question, described the outlay as “sinful” and “profligate” and said the so-called “black spider” letters – named because of the Prince’s handwriting – should be published.

Mr Grieve has attempted to block the release of the 
letters, claiming they undermine the principle of the heir to 
the throne being politically neutral.

Mr Flynn, who represents Newport West, told the Press Association: “This is a sinful waste of public money in a denial-of-information move.

“If there is information in these letters that suggests that Prince Charles will not make a good monarch his future subjects should know about it.

“I believe in the end the letters will be published but public money should not be scandalously wasted in this profligate way.”

Mr Grieve said if the Government is successful in blocking publication it will seek to recover all its legal costs from the Guardian newspaper.

Guardian journalist Rob Evans has been trying to make the letters public under the Freedom of Information Act and in September 2012 the High Court ruled in his favour.

Government departments did not intervene at the time but Mr Grieve overruled the decision a month later.

But earlier this month, the Court of Appeal ruled that Mr Grieve had “no good reason” for overriding the High Court’s decision and said his veto was incompatible with EU law.

Mr Grieve then claimed that releasing the letters would undermine the principle of the heir to the throne being politically neutral and was granted permission to appeal against the latest ruling to the Supreme Court.