Prince Harry had no right to intervene in fight to pay for police protection, says judge

Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry Meghan police protection review pay for security court case - Chris Jackson/Getty Images
Duke and Duchess of Sussex Prince Harry Meghan police protection review pay for security court case - Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The Duke of Sussex was not entitled to make personal representations over the decision to deny him the right to pay for his police protection, a judge said, as he denied his application for a legal challenge.

Prince Harry argued that the Government decision not to allow him to fund his own security was “procedurally unfair” as he was not given the opportunity to put forward his case.

He applied for a judicial review based on his offer to pay, which he claimed should have prompted the Home Office to “quash and retake” its decision.

However, Mr Justice Chamberlain refused the application on a number of grounds.

He said that the Royal and VIP Executive Committee (Ravec), the Home Office committee responsible for making decisions about VIP security, had been asked to consider a request to deviate from its usual policy.

Crux of the matter

The issue at stake could affect anyone who might seek to pay for protective security, he said, but did not consider “the specific security needs of a particular principal”.

The judge said Ravec knew the Duke believed that he should be permitted to pay for protective security from the Metropolitan Police.

“It is not obvious why fairness demanded that one particular principal be afforded the opportunity to make formal representations on that issue,” he added.

“In my judgment, it is not arguable that the failure to invite representations on the issue of principle was a breach of natural justice.”

Wealthy ‘should not buy special police services’

The Home Office, opposing the Duke’s claim, argued that the Metropolitan Police was not for hire and that a wealthy person should not be able to “buy” special police services.

It found that it was not in the public interest for someone to privately fund such protection and that such a move would undermine public confidence in the force.

Lawyers for the Met, an interested party in the case, said Ravec had been “reasonable” in finding that it was “wrong for a policing body to place officers in harm’s way upon payment of a fee by a private individual”.

In his application, the Duke challenged the Home Secretary’s decision to delegate the final decision about his security to Ravec.

He argued that the decision rested exclusively with the chief officer of police and that while Ravec could express a view, it could not make the final decision.

The judge said he had “borne carefully in mind” the Met Commissioner’s statement that should such a request be made to the force, the answer would inevitably be “no”.

Elsewhere, the Duke’s legal team argued that Ravec’s position could not be reconciled with rules that expressly allowed charging for certain police services.

However, the judge said: “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.

“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.”

The judge concluded: “For these reasons, I refuse permission to apply for judicial review.”

The decision not to grant the Sussexes automatic security when they are in the UK was made by Ravec in February 2020, shortly after the Duke announced he was stepping back as a working member of the Royal family and moving abroad.

The committee said the Sussexes’ plan to live abroad as private citizens did not “fit readily” into any category of its framework.

Last July, the Duke won the right to a judicial review, arguing that he had been denied a “clear and full explanation” of the composition of Ravec and its decision making process. A full hearing is yet to be held.

Separately, the Duke is also awaiting rulings on whether similar cases against the publishers of the Daily Mail and The Sun can go ahead.

A judgment is also expected in his libel claim against Associated Newspapers, which publishes the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday, over an article on his case against the Home Office.

The Duke is also bringing a contested claim against Mirror Group Newspapers over allegations of unlawful information gathering, including phone hacking.