Royals getting tough, says lawyer

By Dominic Ponsford

Prince
Charles’s decision to sue The Mail on Sunday for breach of confidence
signals a new hardening of the stance of the royals when dealing with
the media.

This is the view of media lawyer Martin Soames, from DLA Piper, who
pointed out that it is the second time the royals have gone to law on a
confidence matter.

In November 2003 the Daily Mirror agreed to
cut short revelations from its reporter posing as an undercover footman
at Buckingham Palace following threatened legal action.

The
Prince of Wales has signalled his intention to sue after the MoS
published an extract from his private journals from 1997 at the time of
the handover of Hong Kong, when he branded the Chinese leaders
“appalling waxworks”.

The MoS has claimed that the journal was widely distributed and viewed as a “historic document”

intended for eventual publication.

Soames said the fact that the document was seen by others does not mean it is not still confidential.

But he said the MoS was likely to have a public interest defence.

He
said: “It is similar to the diaries of Sir Christopher Meyer [former
British ambassador to the US]. A lot of what he published was
confidential, but the publisher would have been advised that it
involved a genuine matter of public concern – this country’s
relationship with the United States.”

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