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16 Dec, 2015 12:39

Prince Charles receives confidential cabinet documents, secret dossier reveals

Prince Charles receives confidential cabinet documents, secret dossier reveals

Heir to the throne Prince Charles has been receiving confidential cabinet papers from the government for decades, secret documents reveal for the first time.

The prince has been receiving all cabinet memoranda since at least 1992, including secret proposals for new legislation and other discussion documents that are only released to the public after 30 years.

The revelations came on Tuesday evening after a Supreme Court judge ruled in favor of campaign group Republic, which filed a Freedom of Information (FoI) request three years ago.

Senior Tory MP Bernard Jenkin said the government should have been more open about the fact Prince Charles has been receiving confidential documents for decades.

Jenkin, who is chair of the Commons Constitutional Committee, said he was “non-plussed” by the revelations.

Obviously it would have been much better if [the government] would have been open on this point. They publish the Cabinet manual, in which it might have been perfectly reasonable to make this clear, that these documents go to the heir of the throne,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today program.

Jenkin suggested the Cabinet Office should not have fought the lengthy legal battle to try to keep the “precedent book” secret.

I imagine the precedent book itself contains precedents that are security sensitive, which are secret and should not be disclosed, and that is why in principle the precedent book has been protected.

But this is the civil service in transition still from the period of secrecy to the period of freedom of information, where they’re still not used to drawing a line between what is secret and what is not secret.”

Cabinet documents contain draft legislation and papers of the cabinet committee, such as those examining economic affairs, national security, Europe, home affairs, public expenditure and constitutional reform.

Prince Charles came under scrutiny earlier this year when his secret “black spider memos” sent to ministers were published following a decade-long legal battle by the Guardian newspaper.

The memos revealed Charles wrote to ministers about his favorite topics, including organic agriculture and alternative medicine, as well as provisions for troops in the Iraq War.

Republic’s chief executive Graham Smith described Charles as the “best-informed, best-connected lobbyist in the UK.”

He is someone who clearly wants to not simply prepare for being king, but actually influence public policy and that’s a very real problem,” he added.

Labour MP Paul Flynn, a member of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, called for a parliamentary investigation following Tuesday night’s revelations.

He is not just a figurehead, he has become a participant in national debate and there is no control over his lobbying,” Flynn said.

This means that he is not only the most influential lobbyist, but the best-informed and he is lobbying for his own interests, which are not always benign or sensible.”