Some parts of documents in Harry, Duke of Sussex's claim against Home Office to remain secret, court rules
Harry is bringing a claim against the department after being told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of personal protective security when visiting from the US, despite offering to pay for it himself.
The duke wants to bring his children to visit from the US, but he and his family are “unable to return to his home” because it is too dangerous, a representative previously said.
He is challenging the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures – known as Ravec – which has delegated powers from the home secretary.
At a preliminary hearing last month, the High Court in London heard an application by both sides for some parts of the court documents in the case to be kept private.
In a judgment on Thursday, Mr Justice Swift said the bid to withhold or redact documents, including a confidential witness statement made by Harry, was allowed.
The judge said: “Some of the information relied on concerns security arrangements put in place either for the claimant or for other public figures in the United Kingdom. For obvious reasons information on such matters usually remains confidential.”
Mr Justice Swift said some parts of his reasons for the decision would have to remain confidential as well.
He said editing out information from court documents would “avoid the risk that putting information into the public domain concerning security arrangements made on past occasions, and the general approach to whether and if so what arrangements should be made, may impair the effectiveness of arrangements in place now, or which may be put in place in the future”.
Thursday’s ruling only covers the redaction of documents and does not decide the merits of duke’s claim against the Home Office, or if it can go to a full hearing.
After the judgment was made public, Mr Justice Swift criticised Harry’s legal team for breaking the embargo on the document.
High Court judgments are typically provided to lawyers in the case under embargo in a draft form ahead of being made public.
However, Mr Justice Swift said a copy of Thursday’s ruling had been emailed to someone who was not a lawyer, against court rules, calling this “entirely unacceptable”.
Shaheed Fatima QC, for the duke, said she and her team were unsure about whether sending the draft judgment last week was a breach, but had decided to report it to the judge on Wednesday.
However, the senior judge said it was a “clear breach” and questioned why it had not been raised immediately.
Mr Justice Swift continued: “It should have been obvious that what happened was a breach. At the very least, it should have been obvious that it needed to be reported to the judge, me, at as soon as possible.”
At a hearing last month, Ms Fatima told the court Harry considers the UK “is and always will be his home”.
A representative for Harry previously said the duke wants to fund the security himself, rather than ask taxpayers to foot the bill.
Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.