Prince Harry to appeal after losing High Court security case

Prince Harry plans to appeal after losing a High Court battle over the decision to downgrade his UK security after he stepped down as a working member of the Royal Family.

The Duke of Sussex took the government to court after a decision was taken in February 2020 that would no longer have automatic police security when he visits the country.

He complained that he had been “singled out” for “inferior” treatment after he and wife Meghan left the UK for a new life in the US.

But the Home Office argued that decisions on Royal and VIP security could be “bespoke” and considered on a “case-by-case” basis.

On Wednesday, retired High Court judge Sir Peter Lane ruled that the decision had been taken lawfully.

“The court has found that there has not been any unlawfulness in reaching the decision of 28 February 2020”, a summary of his decision said.

“Any departure from policy was justified. The decision was not irrational. The decision was not marred by procedural unfairness. Even if such procedural unfairness occurred, the court would in any event be prevented from granting the claimant relief.

“This is because, leaving aside any such unlawfulness, it is highly likely that the outcome for the claimant would not have been substantially different.”

After the ruling, a spokesperson for Harry said the Duke of Sussex will appeal the judgement “which refuses his judicial review claim against the decision-making body Ravec, which includes the Home Office, the Royal Household and the Met Police”.

“Although these are not labels used by Ravec, three categories – as revealed during the litigation – comprise the ‘Ravec cohort’: the Role Based Category, the Occasional Category and the Other VIP Category,” the spoksperson said.

“The Duke is not asking for preferential treatment, but for a fair and lawful application of Ravec’s own rules, ensuring that he receives the same consideration as others in accordance with Ravec’s own written policy.

“In February 2020, Ravec failed to apply its written policy to the Duke of Sussex and excluded him from a particular risk analysis.

“The Duke’s case is that the so-called ‘bespoke process’ that applies to him, is no substitute for that risk analysis.

“The Duke of Sussex hopes he will obtain justice from the Court of Appeal, and makes no further comment while the case is ongoing.”

The three-year legal battle revolved around a decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec), which sets up the level of police protection afforded to Royals and other VIPS.

Harry’s barrister, Shaheed Fatima KC, argued no risk analysis was conducted by Ravec before the decision was taken, accusing the committee of breaching its written policy for security decisions.

“Ravec chose not to follow its own written policy”, she said. “Ravec therefore chose to apply a far inferior procedure to the claimant, lacking critical safeguards built into the written policy.

“This is the first time Ravec has ever decided to deviate from the policy in this way.”

She said Harry had been “singled out” for different treatment, and complained that he had been denied the chance to contribute to the decision-making process while the late Queen Elizabeth II’s assistant private secretary Sir Edward Young was on the Ravec committee.

The court heard of "significant tensions" between Harry and Sir Edward.

The Home Office, which oversees Ravec, said the committee was entitled to take the decision on the Duke’s security and its process was fair.

The judge heard evidence in the case in private to avoid the public airing of sensitive security details, while media and the public heard opening submissions from lawyers for both sides.

A detailed private ruling is being issued by the judge, alongside the short public announcement of his decision.

Today’s defeat is the latest ruling involving Prince Harry, who has brought a string of legal cases to the High Court.

He emerged victorious from a battle against newspaper publisher Mirror Group Newspapers over past instances of phone hacking and unlawful newsgathering, and remains locked in cases against the publishers of The Sun and the Daily Mail.

Last month, he abandoned a libel claim brought against the Mail on Sunday over some of the reporting of his security battle with the Home Office.