Campaign group Republic has revealed that Prince Charles is sent highly confidential Cabinet papers as a matter of routine, in contravention of the government's own rules.
Republic has called on the practice to stop, saying that the documents would give Charles a major advantage when lobbying ministers. He would also benefit from access to market sensitive information without any need to dislcose his financial interests.
The revelation came from the Cabinet Office 'Precedent Book' released to Republic's researchers under a Freedom of Information request. The research is part of a new Royal Secrets report to be launched this week.
Republic has written to the Prime Minister to call on him to end the practice immediately.
Graham Smith, Republic's CEO, said today:
"The disclosure of cabinet papers to Prince Charles is quite extraordinary and completely unacceptable."
"Not only because they would contain highly classified information but because it gives him considerable advantage in pressing his own agenda when lobbying ministers."
"Charles is essentially a minister not attending cabinet. Het gets the paperwork and has private meetings with ministers about policy."
"Charles has no legitimate need to see Cabinet papers at all. His political and private interests and the high degree of secrecy surrounding his lobbying mean there is a real danger this information can be abused without any possibility of accountability."
In the letter to David Cameron Republic has said:
"The fact that, in addition [to his right to secretly lobby ministers], Charles has privileged access to Cabinet papers is a further cause for concern as it means he is able to lobby ministers in secret at every stage of policy development process."
"It is plainly wrong that Charles can lobby on new policy proposals even before the public are aware of the existence of such proposals."
The letter goes on:
"Cabinet papers will include market sensitive information that would enable a person in possession of the information to use it to further their own financial interests."
The Precedent book can be found at www.republic.org.uk/precedentbook
References to the papers going to Charles are at:
- p169 second para from bottom
- p170 first para
The letter to the Prime Minister can be found at www.republic.org.uk/cabinetpapersletter
Government policy on access to classified information says: "Access to sensitive information must be no wider than necessary for the efficient conduct of an organisation’s business and limited to those with a business need and the appropriate personnel security control. This "need to know" principle applies wherever sensitive information is collected, stored, processed or shared within government and when dealing with external public and private sector organisations, and international partners."
Page 5 of Government Security Classifications (April 2014) [https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/fil...
The Royal Secrets report will be available online this week.