British Royal Family to be granted new right of secrecy
The Royal Family will be granted complete protection from public scrutiny.
London: In a controversial legal reform, the Royal Family is to be granted complete protection from public scrutiny to keep the affairs of the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William a secret.
With new amendments in the Freedom of Information Act, letters, e-mails and documents relating to the monarch, her heir and the second in line to the throne will no longer be disclosed even if they are in the public interest, reports the Independent.
These changes would reverse advances which had briefly shone a light on the royal finances - including an attempt by the Queen to use a state poverty fund to heat Buckingham Palace - and which had threatened to force the disclosure of the Prince of Wales`s prolific correspondence with ministers.
Buckingham Palace confirmed that it had consulted with the Coalition Government over the change in the law. The Government buried the plan for "added protection" for the Royal Family in the small print of plans called "opening up public bodies to public scrutiny".
The decision make such changes has also raised questions about the sincerity of the Liberal Democrats` commitment to government transparency.
Ian Davidson, a former member of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said, "I’m astonished that the Government should find time to seek to cover up royal finances. When I was on the PAC what we wanted was more disclosure not less."
"Every time we examined royal finances we found extravagance and indulgence as well as abuse of expenses by junior royals.”
"Everywhere we looked, there were savings to be made for the Government. This sends the wrong message about public disclosure and accountability," he said.
Paul Flynn, another member of the committee, has described the special protection for the Royals as "indefensible".
He said: "I don`t think it serves the interests of the public or the Royal Family very well."
Moreover, Maurice Frankel, head of the Campaign for Freedom of Information, said he believed that Prince Charles was the driving force behind the new law.
"The heir to the throne has written letters to government departments in an attempt to influence policy. He clearly does not want these to get into the public domain," he said.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Buckingham Palace said that the change to the law was necessary because the Freedom of Information Act had failed to protect the constitutional position of the monarch and the heir to the throne.