Black spiders and the letter of the law

Black spiders and the letter of the law

Before Easter, the UK Supreme Court heard one of the most significant cases on freedom of information law since the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and Environmental Information Regulations 2004 came into force.

At its heart were letters and memos which the Prince of Wales had written to various government ministers and politicians in the middle of the last decade--often referred to as 'black spider' letters because of the heir to the throne's distinctive handwriting.

The journalist Gareth Evans of the Guardian newspaper had been trying for many years to have this material published under freedom of information legislation. On 26 March 2015, the court ruled that the letters and memos should be disclosed.

LexisNexis recently interviewed Dinah Rose QC of Blackstone Chambers who acted for the Mr Evans. Here’s what she had to say on this important case. For lawyers, it’s clear that the legal significance of the case extends beyond just freedom of information laws…

What is the significance of this case?

The case is significant partly because of its facts—people are very interested to see what Prince Charles has written in his letters to ministers.

However, for lawyers, it has a wider legal significance. The Supreme Court has emphasised the constitutional importance of the principle that the government, like everyone else, is bound by the decisions of a co

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