Royal secrecy laws need to change in Australia and UK

16 March 2018

Campaigners have expressed concern at today's Australian court ruling that will keep official correspondence from the Queen secret.  The campaign group Republic has called royal secrecy an 'obstacle to the truth'.
 
After a lengthy legal battle the Australian federal court ruled that letters between the Queen and the former Governor General John Kerr were private and personal, not official records.
 
The letters date from 1975 and would reveal the extent to which the Queen was complicit in Kerr's decision to sack the Labor government of Gough Whitlam.
 
Speaking for the UK's republican campaign, Graham Smith said today:
 
"Common sense tells us that letters between monarch and the monarch's representative, letters which are about serious political and constitutional matters, cannot be considered private or personal."
 
"This practice of blurring the lines between personal and official is widespread in the UK, just as it has become an obstacle to the truth in Australia so it is here."
 
"Here and in Australia we need a fundamental shift in the law, making it absolutely clear that official communications are official, not personal."
 
"Here in the UK that means letters of this kind would go to the National Archive, not the Royal Archive, and would be subject to Freedom of Information laws just like any cabinet papers."
 
"It is inexcusable to hide behind baseless claims of privacy.  The Queen needs to take responsibility for this situation, she has personally refused to release official records and continues to insist on the current arrangements."
 
"It's high time there was wide-ranging reforms to royal secrecy."
 
Republic has previously published a Royal Secrets report, which sets out in more detail the scale and nature of the problem.
 
The report can be found at www.republic.org.uk/sites/default/files/RoyalSecrets.pdf

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