Is The UK Being Sued by Prince Harry?

Published January 16th, 2022 - 10:03 GMT
Prince Harry is taking legal action against the Government over its decision to remove his UK police security and claimed it is 'unsafe' for his family to return to the UK without it, the Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Lawyers acting for Harry, who stepped down from Royal duties two years ago, have written a 'pre-action protocol' letter to the Home Office, indicating that they will seek a judicial review if the Sussexes are not provided with continued security while they are in Britain - which they make clear he is happy to pay for.

In a statement issued on the prince's behalf references the fact that others who have left public office, as Prince Harry did two years ago, have still received police protection. 

If the case proceeds, it will lead to a battle in the High Court between Ministers and Prince Harry.

Harry wants to bring his son Archie and baby daughter Lilibet to visit from the US, but he and his family are 'unable to return to his home' because it is too dangerous, a legal representative said.

It follows an incident in London in the summer of 2021 when his security was compromised after his car was chased by paparazzi photographers as he left a charity event.

The duke wants to fund the security himself, rather than ask taxpayers to foot the bill, a legal representative for Harry said.

The statement said: 'As is widely known, others who have left public office and have an inherent threat risk receive police protection at no cost to them.' 

Harry is arguing his private protection team in the US does not have adequate jurisdiction abroad or access to UK intelligence information which is needed keep the Sussex family safe.

'The UK will always be Prince Harry's home and a country he wants his wife and children to be safe in,' the legal representative for the duke said in a statement.

'With the lack of police protection, comes too great a personal risk.'

The representative added: 'The Duke and Duchess of Sussex personally fund a private security team for their family, yet that security cannot replicate the necessary police protection needed whilst in the UK.

'In the absence of such protection, Prince Harry and his family are unable to return to his home.'

The Queen is understood to have been made aware of her grandson's action, which is thought to be the first time a member of the Royal Family has brought a case against Her Majesty's Government.

A source told the Mail on Sunday: 'Harry's argument in a nutshell is: "You got the law wrong." He feels the decision to remove his security was wrong. Pre-action protocol was sent by Harry's lawyers to the Home Office a couple of months ago. This is essentially a precursor to a judicial review.'

Lilibet, who is now seven months, has yet to meet her great-grandmother the Queen, grandfather the Prince of Wales and other members of the family face to face.

The duke briefly returned from LA last year for the July 1 unveiling of the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial statue, and, the day before, on June 30, he met seriously ill children and young people at a WellChild garden party and afternoon tea in Kew Gardens, west London.

It is understood the duke's car was chased by photographers as he left.

Harry's mother Diana died in a car crash after she was chased by the paparazzi in Paris.

The legal representative added: 'Prince Harry inherited a security risk at birth, for life. He remains sixth in line to the throne, served two tours of combat duty in Afghanistan, and in recent years his family has been subjected to well-documented neo-Nazi and extremist threats.

'While his role within the Institution has changed, his profile as a member of the Royal Family has not. Nor has the threat to him and his family.'

The bid for a judicial review was filed in September.

Harry and Meghan lost their taxpayer-funded police protection in the aftermath of quitting as senior working royals.

Their security provision was one of the key issues when the couple announced they wanted to step down in 2020.

Their website at the time suggested the Home Office, through the Metropolitan Police, should continue to provide protection for the couple and their son Archie.

Harry and Meghan were forced to disclose they had put in place 'privately funded security arrangements' for their move to the US, after then president Donald Trump said his country would not pay for their protection.

The Sussexes have signed multimillion-pound deals with Netflix and Spotify, with the duke telling Oprah Winfrey he secured these to pay for his security.

The legal representative added: 'The Duke first offered to pay personally for UK police protection for himself and his family in January of 2020 at Sandringham. That offer was dismissed.

'He remains willing to cover the cost of security, as not to impose on the British taxpayer. As is widely known, others who have left public office and have an inherent threat risk receive police protection at no cost to them.

'The goal for Prince Harry has been simple - to ensure the safety of himself and his family while in the UK so his children can know his home country.

'During his last visit to the UK in July 2021 - to unveil a statue in honour of his late mother - his security was compromised due to the absence of police protection, whilst leaving a charity event.

'After another attempt at negotiations was also rejected, he sought a judicial review in September 2021 to challenge the decision-making behind the security procedures, in the hopes that this could be re-evaluated for the obvious and necessary protection required.'

A Government spokesperson said: 'The UK Government's protective security system is rigorous and proportionate. It is our long-standing policy not to provide detailed information on those arrangements. To do so could compromise their integrity and affect individuals' security.

'It would also not be appropriate to comment on the detail of any legal proceedings.'

Harry's uncle the Duke of York is facing calls to pay for his own security as the fallout from Andrew's civil sex assault case continues.

Late last night, after the story broke in early editions of the Mail on Sunday, the Prince's lawyers issued their extraordinary statement defending his decision to sue the British Government – and insisting he would not rely on taxpayers to fund his family's security.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex had earlier been contacted by the MoS for comment, but did not respond before it went to press. 

The legal action was sparked after Harry's most recent trip to the UK in July, when his police protection had been removed.

A source said: 'When Harry came back last April for Prince Philip's funeral, he was given security. But when he came back in the summer, he wasn't.' 

Ahead of the funeral, Harry travelled to Britain with his private security team, but was met on the tarmac at Heathrow by Scotland Yard protection officers.

It is understood that was not the case when he returned to the UK for the unveiling of a statue of Princess Diana at Kensington Palace with his brother William in July. 

Following a 20-minute reception after the unveiling, Harry left with bodyguards thought to have been provided at his own expense.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have made no secret of their unhappiness at the removal of their taxpayer-funded security.

The couple were living in Canada – guarded by publicly funded British UK and Canadian security – when 'Megxit' was announced in January 2020.

At the same time, the security section of their new website – on which they detailed their notion of a 'new working model' – described them as 'internationally protected people'.

But the 'working model' had not been agreed by the Queen and the section was swiftly removed. 

Following crisis talks at Sandringham, it was eventually agreed that the Sussexes would no longer use their 'HRH' titles and Harry was stripped of his military honours.

Meanwhile, a 'Royal and VIP Executive Committee' comprising the Home Secretary, the Metropolitan Police's royalty protection command chief and palace officials decided that the couple's 24-hour protection could not continue given they were no longer working Royals living in Britain.

That decision clearly rankled with Harry, who used the bombshell TV interview with US chat-show host Oprah Winfrey last March to express his anger.

 He said: 'The biggest concern was that while we were in Canada, in someone else's house, I then got told at short notice security was going to be removed... Their justification is a change in status, of which I pushed back and said, 'Well, is there a change of threat or risk?'

'And after many weeks of waiting, eventually I got the confirmation that no, the risk and threat hasn't changed but [it was] due to our change in status, [by] which we would no longer be official working members of the Royal Family.' 

He added: 'My family literally cut me off financially and I had to afford security for us.' 

Ms Winfrey said the couple were not paid for the interview, but Harry had, by then, received a reported £500,000 fee to give a keynote speech to J P Morgan bankers in Miami. Before moving into their nine-bedroom, £10 million home in Montecito, California, they were given the use of a mansion owned by entertainment tycoon Tyler Perry, who also provided the couple with security. 

Meghan told Ms Winfrey: 'We needed a house and he offered security as well, so it gave us breathing room to try to figure out what we were going to do.'

Harry's decision to instruct his lawyers to take legal action against the Government could inflame tensions with his family.

It also provides a further headache for the Queen only days after she stripped Prince Andrew of his military honours and charity patronages after a US judge ruled that a claim of sex abuse made against him – and vehemently denied – would proceed. 

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