Prince Harry loses bid to challenge decision to bar him from paying for UK police protection

Prince Harry loses bid to challenge decision to bar him from paying for UK police protection

Prince Harry has lost his bid for a second legal challenge against the Home Office over his security arrangements when in the UK.

The Duke of Sussex was seeking 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.

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The Home Office – which is 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.

Security has been hugely contentious issue for Harry since he left UK

Security has always been a hugely contentious issue for Prince Harry ever since he left the UK.

His automatic police protection was removed in 2020, a decision made after he stepped down from his role as a working member of the Royal Family.

The Duke of Sussex has been challenging how that decision was made, and this case was all about whether or not he should have been allowed to pay for his own policing.

His lawyers had argued the decision wasn’t taken correctly and that there is provision under the Police Act for private individuals to pay for policing.

But the Met Police disagreed, as did the judge.

Prince Harry might have lost this bid, but his battle over security continues with another case still to be decided.

His recent clash with photographers in NYC and Harry’s strongly worded reaction show his concern and challenge when it comes to security and protection.

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.

“I can detect nothing that is arguably irrational in that reasoning.”

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Are they a hounded couple or a pair of hypocrites?

The ruling comes less than a week after Harry’s spokesperson said he, together with 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 Sussexes 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”.

Read more:
A timeline of Harry and Meghan’s ‘car chase’
Analysis: A hounded couple or pair of hypocrites?
A history of Harry vs the paparazzi revealed

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Why is Prince Harry claiming damages against MGN?

The ruling on Tuesday also comes 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 over whether similar cases against Daily Mail publisher Associated Newspapers Limited (ANL), and News Group Newspapers (NGN) – which publishes The Sun – can go ahead.

A judgment is also expected in the duke’s libel claim against ANL over an article on his case against the Home Office.