Prince Harry has launched a legal challenge against the Home Office over the department’s refusal to allow him to pay for police security while in the UK.
At a High Court hearing yesterday, lawyers for the Duke of Sussex argued that he should be able to bring legal action over a decision by the executive committee for the protection of royalty and public figures – known as Ravec – not to provide him with personal police security while in the UK, even if he were to fund it himself.
In February 2020, the duke was told he would no longer receive the "same degree" of personal protective security when visiting the UK, and could not pay for the same.
The decision came after Harry and his wife Meghan decided to “step back” from their royal duties and move to the US.
The court heard yesterday that the legal action Harry is seeking is “related” to an earlier claim he made over his security arrangements, which his lawyers said a judge denied without a hearing.
Lawyers for the Home Office said yesterday that it was not appropriate for “wealthy people” to be able to “buy” armed police protective security.
Robert Palmer KC said the decision was made because Prince Harry had suggested he "was or might be" willing to "privately to fund the protective security he sought" from the Met.
He said the committee, which includes senior Home Office officials, had weighed up whether it was "appropriate for a person for whom Ravec had not authorised protective security, or for particular instances in which it had not been authorised, to nonetheless receive it but to reimburse the public purse the cost of it".
Ravec concluded “unanimously” that an individual should not be allowed to privately fund protection by the Met, he said.
However, the duke’s camp argued that this stance was inconsistent with the 1996 Police Act, which allows the "'chief officer of police' to provide 'special police services' subject to payment".
Shaheed Fatima KC, representing the duke, told the court that Ravec had “exceeded its authority” and “doesn’t have the power to make this decision in the first place”.
In written submissions, Fatima said Ravec’s stance “that allowing payment for protective security is contrary to the public interest and will undermine public confidence in the Metropolitan police Service” could not “be reconciled with... the fact that parliament has expressly allowed for the payment for such services”.
The department’s lawyers said Ravec’s decision was not unlawful but was “simply the setting of a policy principle”.
Fatima said Harry was not seeking a bodyguard but “protection at a particular location”.
However, the Home Office also said there was a clear distinction between police officers providing crowd control at a public event like a football match or marathon, and specialist security for an individual.
The Met has meanwhile argued that providing specialist policing would unfairly expose officers to “unique risks”.
“It cannot be right that officers are expected to expose themselves to that level of risk not in the public interest but because the policing body has been financially compensated,” Matthew Butt said.
The force’s written submissions, the Met said it was “wrong for a policing body to place officers in harm’s way upon payment of a fee by a private individual”.
The judge will give his ruling at a later date.