Prince HARRY facing an estimated £1million legal bill after losing High Court security ruling in Home Office battle


Friday, March 01, 2024
 – Prince Harry could face a legal bill of up to £1million after losing his High Court challenge against the Home Office.

The Duke of Sussex had taken the Government department to court over its decision to downgrade his taxpayer-funded personal security when he visits Britain.

The 39-year-old argued that doing so could put them in harm's way, with court documents released on Wednesday saying he thought his family was at a greater risk than his late mother, Princess Diana.

But retired High Court judge Sir Peter Lane refused an application for a judicial review, potentially landing Harry with a mammoth court bill as a result.

The father-of-two could now have to pay the costs for his own lawyers, as well as the legal costs of the Home Office, a total that could reach seven figures, The Times reports.

The Home Office revealed in October last year that it had already incurred legal costs of £407,000 as a result of the case, and that was before the three-day trial itself took place in December.

Meanwhile, the California-based royal hired law firm Schillings International and four barristers to help him bring the court action, potentially bringing his own personal costs even higher.

Losing parties in High Court cases normally have to pay the legal costs for both sides, with the Duke now hoping for a successful appeal against the ruling.

Harry took legal action over the move by the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) after being told he would no longer be given the 'same degree' of publicly-funded protection when in the UK.

His lawyers had claimed he was 'singled out' and treated 'less favourably' in the February 2020 decision by the body, which falls under the Home Office's remit.

The court also heard that his European security director had pointed out ahead of a trip to Britain last March that Al Qaeda had recently called for him to be killed.

The terrorist group is said to have ordered Harry's death after he wrote about killing 25 Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in his controversial book Spare in January 2023.

The court was also provided a letter sent from Harry's private secretary Fiona Mcilwham to the Cabinet Office in which he claimed 'racism and extremism' were putting his family at risk.

She wrote the Duke 'could not see how he could have his security removed unless the current risk to him and his family had decreased'.

In the letter, Ms Mcilwham said Harry asked 'who would be willing to put him and his family in a position of extreme vulnerability and risk'.

Harry claimed this was 'a position that no one was willing to put my mother in 23 years ago, and yet today, with greater risk, as mentioned above, with the additional layers of racism and extremism, someone is comfortable taking accountability for what could happen.

'I would like that person's name who is willing to take accountability for this choice please …', he added.

But retired High Court judge Sir Peter Lane refused an application for a judicial review, potentially landing Harry with a mammoth court bill as a result.

The father-of-two could now have to pay the costs for his own lawyers, as well as the legal costs of the Home Office, a total that could reach seven figures, The Times reports.

The Home Office revealed in October last year that it had already incurred legal costs of £407,000 as a result of the case, and that was before the three-day trial itself took place in December.

Meanwhile, the California-based royal hired law firm Schillings International and four barristers to help him bring the court action, potentially bringing his own personal costs even higher.

Losing parties in High Court cases normally have to pay the legal costs for both sides, with the Duke now hoping for a successful appeal against the ruling.

The Home Office revealed in October last year that it had already incurred legal costs of £407,000 as a result of the case, and that was before the three-day trial itself took place in December.

Meanwhile, the California-based royal hired law firm Schillings International and four barristers to help him bring the court action, potentially bringing his own personal costs even higher.

Losing parties in High Court cases normally have to pay the legal costs for both sides, with the Duke now hoping for a successful appeal against the ruling.

But at a hearing in London in December, the Government insisted 39-year-old Harry's claim should be dismissed, arguing Ravec was entitled to conclude the Duke's protection should be 'bespoke' and considered on a 'case-by-case' basis.

Two months on, retired High Court judge Sir Peter Lane has now issued his ruling on the case this morning - saying: 'The application for judicial review is refused.'

A spokesman for Harry said he would appeal the decision, adding that he was 'not asking for preferential treatment, but for a fair and lawful application of Ravec's own rules'.

They said: 'The Duke of Sussex will appeal today's judgment which refuses his judicial review claim against the decision-making body Ravec, which includes the Home Office, the royal household and the Met Police.

'Although these are not labels used by Ravec, three categories - as revealed during the litigation - comprise the 'Ravec cohort': the role-based category, the occasional category and the other VIP category.

'The Duke is not asking for preferential treatment but for a fair and lawful application of Ravec's own rules, ensuring that he receives the same consideration as others in accordance with Ravec's own written policy.

'In February 2020, Ravec failed to apply its written policy to the Duke of Sussex and excluded him from a particular risk analysis. The duke's case is that the so-called 'bespoke process' that applies to him is no substitute for that risk analysis.

'The Duke of Sussex hopes he will obtain justice from the Court of Appeal, and makes no further comment while the case is ongoing.'

The Duke will first need a judge to give him the green light to go to the Court of Appeal.

A judgment summary in Harry's case released this morning said the court determined 'there has not been any unlawfulness in reaching the decision', adding that it was not 'irrational'.

The court also found the 'decision was not marred by procedural unfairness' and there was no unlawfulness by Ravec in its arrangements for his visits to Britain.

In his 52-page partially redacted ruling, Sir Peter said Harry's lawyers had taken 'an inappropriate, formalist interpretation of the Ravec process'.

He added: 'The 'bespoke' process devised for the claimant in the decision of February 28, 2020, was, and is, legally sound.'

The judge also said: 'The decision of February 28, 2020 was obviously forward-looking in nature.

'The suggestion that the claimant should have received both an RMB (risk) analysis and a 'bespoke' approach ignores the witness evidence of the defendant which, for the reasons I have given, falls to be given weight.

'That evidence shows no irrationality or other unlawfulness, as regards the other VIP category.'

Sir Peter also noted it was 'highly relevant' that on January 11, 2020, Sir Edward Young, then Queen Elizabeth II's private secretary, gave Harry a 'draft options paper' outlining that the 'level of protection is a decision for the Home Secretary, delegated to the chair' of Ravec.

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