Prince Harry loses ‘hopeless’ bid to appeal High Court ruling over personal security

The Duke of Sussex
The Duke of Sussex had sought a judicial review over the decision to remove his right remove to automatic police protection when he moved abroad - Julian Simmonds for the Telegraph

Prince Harry has lost a “frankly hopeless” bid to appeal his case against the Home Office after a High Court judge noted that he had “comprehensively lost”.

The Duke of Sussex sought a judicial review over the decision to remove his right to automatic police protection when he moved abroad.

His claim was dismissed in February after two and a half years of legal wrangling. Mr Justice Lane insisted that the decision made by the Royal and VIP Executive Committee (Ravec) had not been irrational or procedurally unfair.

Court documents released on Monday revealed that Prince Harry’s application to appeal the ruling was also roundly rejected by the judge, as was his request to pay just 40 per cent of the Government’s costs, which exceeded £500,000.

The judge ordered him instead to pay 90 per cent, stating that his submissions relied upon “a great deal of unsupported speculation”.

The ruling means that the Duke faces an estimated cost of more than £1 million, including his own legal fees.

On the application to appeal, Mr Justice Lane criticised the Duke’s legal team for “displaying precisely the same kind of errors” he had identified in his original ruling, specifically, by taking an “inappropriate” and “formalistic” approach to the process.

The judge said the application was “largely a recapitulation of the case advanced by the claimant at trial”.

He continued: “The reality of the matter is that the claimant considers he should receive a different approach to his protection while in the UK than Ravec decided he should, based in part on his comparison of his own position with that of others. Ravec, as an expert body, concluded otherwise. It was entitled to do so.”

‘Frankly hopeless’

The suggestion that the court should not afford “deference” to Ravec’s decision-making because the subject matter involved the protection of an individual was “frankly hopeless”, the judge said.

“There are no ‘other compelling reasons’ for an appeal to be heard,” he concluded.

“The fact that the subject matter concerns ‘protection of life and safety/security of person’ does not constitute such a reason. If it did, there would be vast numbers of substantive appeals in the immigration jurisdiction, where the Refugee Convention/ECHR Article 3 is commonly engaged.”

The judge also dismissed the Duke’s argument that the case may have been the first substantive judicial review of Ravec, which he said was “not a compelling reason”.

And he rejected the suggestion that the court had made “novel legal findings” on policy.

It is thought that Prince Harry will now take the case directly to the Court of Appeal.

His request for a reduction of up to 60 per cent in the Government’s costs was based on the fact that it had been too slow to release certain documents.

The judge agreed that they should have been made available earlier in the process but said he thought the Home Office lawyers had adopted a “subjective view” of the issue and had sought to protect the identities, and safety, of other VIPs.

‘Fishing expeditions’

The Duke asked, on Sept 8 2021, for a copy of “Ravec’s decision-making policy” but was told there was no such document.

The judge said that by failing to inform him of the existence of Ravec’s “2017 Terms of Reference” until December 2022, the Government had allowed him to believe that the decision concerning his security was made under an earlier incarnation of the terms drawn up in 2008.

However, he found no evidence of “bad faith or improper motive” and said the consequences were not as severe as the Duke had implied.

He said it was important for a defendant to guard against potential “fishing expeditions”.

The judge also criticised the Duke’s assertion that he had achieved “partial success” in his claim, pointing out that he had “comprehensively lost”, having “failed on all of the pleaded grounds”.

He noted that the “extremely complex” case history was in part due to Prince Harry’s application for the entire process to be confidential and his “subsequent approach to confidentiality restrictions” which took time and effort to resolve.

He said the Duke’s decision to launch judicial review proceedings in the first place had also been “significantly delayed”.

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