The Freedom of Information Act: it's not working for the Prince of Wales but it could work for you

The Freedom of Information Act: it's not working for the Prince of Wales but it could work for you

Prince Charles is clearly having one of those days.

Earlier, he was at the radio station, Kiss FM, 'getting down wiv da kidz' and reportedly being referred to as 'da main man'.

I'd guess that not many 'main men' sport double-breasted suits complete with pocket squares but perhaps my knowledge of the urban music scene isn't what it used to be? Perhaps the DJ at Kiss FM confused him with Prince—sorry, the artist formally known as 'Prince' (or '')?

But I'm digressing a tad.

Of undoubted greater concern to the future monarch—and indeed the government—is this morning's judgment of the Court of Appeal on the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Using the powers under this Act, the Guardian journalist, Rob Evans, made an application some time ago to request the disclosure of various letters which were written by the Prince and sent to a number of government departments between 2004 and 2005.

Today, the Court of Appeal ruled that the Prince's letters can be published and that the Attorney-General, Dominic Grieve, acted unlawfully when he blocked the publication of the letters.

So what's the big deal?

Essentially, the Act confers a right of access for the public to nuggets of information held by or for public authorities (subject to the odd exception). The right was introduced in the first term of the 1997 - 2010 Labour administration.

In his memoirs, Tony Blair considered carefully whether he thought the Act had been successful:

You idiot. You naive, foolish, irresponsible nincompoop. There is really no description of stupidity, no matter how vivid, that is adequate. I quake at the imbecility of it.

Successful then Mr Blair? That’s probably a ‘no’.

Indeed, I would hazard a guess that the Prince might be minded to agree with the former PM's analysis today.

Many politicians and civil servants believe that the Act is having a chilling effect on the way they work with each other; worried as they are that open and frank discourse is discouraged if they know that their discussions can ultimately be published. And this is where the Prince's letters come in.

It would seem that the letters contain particularly frank information and that their release might compromise the political neutrality of the Prince.

This explains the Attorney-General's 

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