Today I received a reply from the Attorney General after querying the total cost to his Department of challenging the decision of the Information Commissioner on the publication of letters from the Prince of Wales. So far that figure stands at almost £275,000!
This denial of information by government is a sinful waste of public money. If there is something in the letters that suggests Prince Charles will be a poor monarch, then his future subjects have a right to know.
The Head of state is a position of great influence and a clash between an opinionated Head of State and a government could cause a constitutional crisis.
25th March 2014: Law Officers’ Departments (Running Costs)
Paul Flynn (Newport West) (Lab): What plans he has to reduce the running costs of the Law Officers’ departments.
The Solicitor-General (Oliver Heald): Over the next two financial years, the total expenditure of the Law Officers’ departments will be reduced through measures such as shared legal services, reduction in non-front-line staff, increased digitalisation, rationalisation of estates and more efficient court listing practices.
Paul Flynn: How much is the Department spending to contest freedom of information and court decisions, in order to suppress information to the public? The claim has been made that information is available that would show that an important person is unfit to do his future job. Should we not allow the lobbying letters of Prince Charles to be made public?
The Solicitor-General: The hon. Gentleman raises a case that involves issues of constitutional significance, including upholding Parliament’s intentions for the freedom of information regime and the Government’s ability to protect information in the public interest. It is important that the Government continue to fight the case in question. To protect public funds, if we are successful at the next stage of the legal proceedings, we would expect The Guardian to meet our legal costs in full.