London: In order to protect Prince Charles from public scrutiny, the British government is trying to amend a law that would lead to a blanket ban on anyone disclosing information about the royal family.
British Justice Secretary Jack Straw tabled an amendment to the Constitutional Reform and Governance Bill to prevent anyone from seeking information about Prince Charles, the Queen and Prince William, The Times reports.
The royal family is exempt from direct requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act, but public bodies can be asked to release information that may include details about the royals.
The move comes after a freedom of information (FoI) application revealed how Charles scuttled a GBP 3 billion redevelopment of Chelsea Barracks.
After discovering that his aide met planning officials to discuss the scrapping of the scheme, property developers Christian and Nick Candy initiated a legal proceeding.
The court has ordered Clarence House to disclose relevant documents by the end of this week. If the information provided is inadequate, Charles could be called to testify.
Critics of Straw’s amendment say it would seriously restrict freedom of information laws.
Maurice Frankel, director of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said: “Obviously one would want to protect the confidential nature of the meetings between the monarch and the prime minister. But the FoI Act already provides this kind of protection.”
Over 60 MPs have signed an early day motion calling for it to be dropped.
First Published: Sunday, March 21, 2010, 13:19