Scottish government’s failure to publish Prince Charles’ letters breached FOI rules

Rosemary Agnew

The Scottish government has been found guilty of breaching freedom of information laws by keeping Prince Charles’ “black spider” letters secret.

The information commissioner, Rosemary Agnew, ordered ministers to release the letters, which detail the Prince’s lobbying to ministers over his pet projects, to the Sunday Herald.

When the Prince’s letters were published last year, three of them sent to then First Minister Alex Salmond were kept secret by the Scottish government because it believed their publication “would substantially prejudice the Prince’s interests as the future monarch” and would result in damaging “speculation of a political nature”.

However, Ms Agnew dismissed the arguments, with her decision notice stating: “She does not accept that the information could be characterised as confidential, while the submissions on harm to the Prince’s future role as monarch appear to be speculative and wholly unrelated to the nature of the information withheld.”

She ordered that the letters be released by May 16, concluding that ministers were not entitled to withhold the letters and that they “failed to comply” with environmental information regulations.

A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “We received a decision from the Scottish Information Commissioner on March 30 and are currently considering its terms.”

Share icon
Share this article: