Letter to MP re Royal Household and FOI
Here is a letter I wrote to my MP re the Royal Household and Freedom of Information. If you are inspired to write to your MP please don’t copy the whole letter but feel free to copy small extracts.
I wrote the letter in response to a campaign message from Republic.
I am writing to express my concern about the limitations of freedom of
information law with respect to the Royal Household. The Royal
Household is not a public authority for the purposes of the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (‘the Act’) despite the fact that it is a publicly
funded body. This means that information held by the Royal Household
cannot be accessed by the public even in cases where it can be shown
that disclosure is in the public interest. Taxpayers have the right to
have detailed information about how public money is being spent.
There is also a second wall of secrecy surrounding the Royal Household
and the Royal Family, provided by the exemption in Section 37 of the
Act. Section 37 provides an absolute exemption for certain types of
correspondence meaning that for example correspondence between Prince
Charles and a government minister cannot be accessed even in cases
where it can be demonstrated that the public interest is in favour of
disclosure. I simply cannot accept that members of the Royal Family
should have greater rights to privacy of their correspondence than
other citizens of the United Kingdom.
It has been argued by some that the correspondence of the monarch and
heir requires additional protection because of the need for
impartiality in these roles. I note that impartiality is critical to
the work of the Electoral Commission, police forces and the Court
Service yet all are public authorities subject to the provisions of the
Act. Impartiality cannot be used as an excuse for unnecessary secrecy.
The Government has the power under Section 5 of the Act to designate
the Royal Household as a public authority and this power ought to be
I would be grateful if you could pass my remarks on to the Ministry of
Justice. I would also like you to use the power you have as a
legislator to propose amendments and table questions aimed at
highlighting the problems with the present arrangements. Please let me
know what steps if any you intend to take as a result of this letter.