Prince Charles' 'black spider memos' released

Prince Charles' 'black spider memos' released

Secret letters written by Prince Charles to Tony Blair administration between 2004 and 2005 were made public today after a 10-year-long court battle between the British government and 'The Guardian' newspaper.

The 27 "black spider memos", series of letters and memos written by 66-year-old Charles, Prince of Wales, to British government ministers and politicians, were released after a decade-long campaign by 'The Guardian' newspaper.

The documents are being published in batches by the newspaper, the UK's Information Commissioner and the Cabinet Office.

"The publication of private letters can only inhibit his ability to express the concerns and suggestions which have been put to him in the course of his travels and meetings," a statement from Prince Charles' Clarence House office said.

A review of the letters published so far shows the Prince of Wales wrote to ministers with concerns on issues ranging from beef farming, problems affecting workers in the dairy sector, resources available for armed forces and badger culling.

The government's veto on publication was declared unlawful by the Court of Appeal last year - a decision which was upheld by the Supreme Court last month.

The publication of the letters, written while Tony Blair was Prime Minister, follows a ruling on Tuesday by the Upper Tribunal of Britain's Administrative Appeals Chamber.
It said the material could be published subject to any "provisional redactions" to protect personal data of people other than the prince.

The letters, which cover the period between September 2004 and April 2005, reflect - according to the previous attorney general Dominic Grieve - Prince Charles' "most deeply held personal views and beliefs".

In 2005 'Guardian' journalist Rob Evans originally applied to see the Prince's letters under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOI).

This was initially denied by the information commissioner and several legal decisions followed.
In March, Prime Minister David Cameron called the Supreme Court judgement to allow publication "disappointing".

As heir to the throne, Charles is expected to stay out of political matters as that would seriously damage his role as future monarch.

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