By Roger Pearson
The public has a right to form its own views on the role of Prince Charles in relation to political matters, the High Court was told this week.
A lawyer for the Mail on Sunday argued that given the conduct of the Prince, it was not open to him to complain about excerpts from his private journals being made public.
The claim came on day two of the hearing in which lawyers for the Prince are asking Mr Justice Blackburne to rule that in publishing extracts from the Prince’s private journals, the Mail on Sunday was in breach of his confidentiality and copyright.
A written statement by the Prince’s former assistant private secretary, Mark Bolland, indicates that the journals were "not regarded by the Prince or by anyone in his office as being especially ‘secret’ or as scandalous documents".
The journal at the centre of the complaint commented on the handover of Hong Kong to the Chinese. In it the Prince is said to refer to Chinese diplomats as "appalling old waxworks".
Bolland said in his statement that the Prince’s journals were not marked "secret" and were not treated in the same way as documents that were regarded as secret or highly confidential.
Some documents sent to the Prince were treated as confidential said Bolland, but "no such concern was paid to the journals". He said the Prince would ask for some journals to be sent to a variety of people — at least 50 to 75 — including "politicians, media people, journalists and actors".
Mark Warby, QC, for Associated Newspapers, publisher of the MoS, argued that in the light of the Prince’s conduct, it was not open to him to complain in the way he is.
"In a democracy, the public has a right to form a view based on accurate information on the proper role of the heir to the throne in relation to political matters," he said.
"This case is about politics, political opinion and the role of the heir to the throne in relation to these issues."
He added that it is not open to Prince Charles to complain when the public is told he is circulating political opinions.