Media Law Prof Blog

Editor: Christine A. Corcos
Louisiana State Univ.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Important UK Constitutional Ruling: UK High Court Rules In Favor of Guardian Newspaper Over Release of Prince of Wales' Letters

The U.K.'s highest court has ruled in favor of the Guardian newspaper and against the UK government, holding that the Prince of Wales' letters to government ministers must be released pursuant to a freedom of information act request. The decision concerning the letters, which express Prince Charles' opinions on matters of policy, end a years-long battle over whether the royal family's views on such issues ought to be private, and whether if a FoIA request is granted, whether a government minister could overrule the decision. The court examined both EU and UK law in coming to its decision.  Sections 51-59 address the UK constitutional issues. Here are some excerpts.

When one considers the implications of section 53(2) in the context of a situation where a court, or indeed any judicial tribunal, has determined that information should be released, it is at once apparent that this argument has considerable force. A statutory provision which entitles a member of the executive...to overrule a decision of the judiciary merely because he does not agree with it would not merely be unique in the laws of the United Kingdom. It would cut across two constitutional principles which are also fundamental components of the rule of law.  First, subject to being overruled by a higher court or ...a statute, it is a basic principle that a decision of a court is binding as between the parties, and cannot be ignored or set aside by anyone, including...the executive. Secondly, it is also fundamental to the rule of law that decisions and action of the executive are, subject to necessary well established exceptions...and jealously scrutinised statutory exceptions, reviewable by the court at the suit of an interested citizen.

Link to the judgment here.

Blog and timeline here.

Video explaining background and the content of the letters here.

More from the BBC here.

 

 

 

 

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