UK

Harry treated ‘less favourably’ in UK security decision, High Court told

The Duke of Sussex has brought a legal challenge against the Home Office (James Manning/PA)
The Duke of Sussex has brought a legal challenge against the Home Office (James Manning/PA) The Duke of Sussex has brought a legal challenge against the Home Office (James Manning/PA)

The Duke of Sussex was “singled out” and treated “less favourably” in a decision to change the level of his personal security when visiting the UK, the High Court has been told.

Harry’s lawyers argue that a failure to carry out a risk analysis and fully consider the impact of a “successful attack” on him meant the approach to his protection was “unlawful and unfair”.

The duke has brought a legal challenge against the Home Office over the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec), after being told he would no longer be given the “same degree” of publicly funded security.

The Government says Harry’s claim should be dismissed, arguing that Ravec – which falls under the Home Office’s remit – was entitled to conclude the duke’s protection should be “bespoke” and considered on a “case-by-case” basis.

Shaheed Fatima KC, for the duke, told a hearing in London on Tuesday: “This case is about the right to safety and security of a person. There could not be a right of greater importance to any of us.”

The barrister said a “crucial” part of Ravec’s approach was an analysis carried out by the Risk Management Board (RMB), but it had chosen not to do this in Harry’s case.

She said it was the first time the body had decided to “deviate” from policy, with it adopting a “far inferior” procedure in relation to “critical safeguards”.

“No good reason has been provided for singling the claimant (the duke) out in this way,” she said, later adding that if Ravec had “properly” considered the duke’s case the outcome was likely to have been “different”.

Ms Fatima said Ravec’s decision was taken when the duke was “a full-time working member of the royal family” and “plainly still in the Ravec cohort”.

Invictus Games – Dusseldorf
Invictus Games – Dusseldorf The hearing before Mr Justice Lane is due to conclude on Thursday, with a ruling expected at a later date (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

In written arguments, Ms Fatima said Harry “has, unjustifiably, been treated less favourably than others”.

She continued: “Ravec should have considered the ‘impact’ that a successful attack on the claimant would have, bearing in mind his status, background and profile within the royal family – which he was born into and which he will have for the rest of his life – and his ongoing charity work and service to the public.

“Ravec should have considered, in particular, the impact on the UK’s reputation of a successful attack on the claimant.”

Ms Fatima said Harry’s “knowledge/understanding was limited” and that he should have been allowed to make representations to Ravec before the change in his security.

She said the duke wants his security arrangements declared unlawful, arguing that the case-by-case approach leads to “excessive uncertainty”.

Ravec has delegated responsibility from the Home Office over the provision of protective security arrangements for members of the royal family and others, with involvement from the Metropolitan Police, the Cabinet Office and the royal household, the court was told.

Sir James Eadie KC, for the Home Office, said in written arguments that the decision “not to undertake an RMB analysis but to conduct a more bespoke, targeted assessment does not amount to treating (Harry) ‘less favourably’”.

He said Ravec had decided that “the bespoke process to be more effective, to allow more specific and informed consideration by Ravec of the threat and risk picture for each visit”.

“Ravec’s decision was informed by the very same threat assessments as would be considered by the RMB,” he said.

Sir James said it was “simply incorrect” to suggest that there was no evidence that the issue of impact was considered, adding that the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was raised as part of the decision.

He said: “Ravec was aware of the wider ‘impact’ following the tragic death of (Harry’s) mother, and this was also a matter referenced by the royal household.”

Sir James added: “Ravec gave greater weight to the impact on state functions being lessened as a result of the change, over likely significant public upset were a successful attack on (Harry) to take place.”

The barrister said it was decided that Harry would not be provided protective security “on the same basis as before” due to him no longer being a working member of the royal family and living abroad most of the time.

Sir James said there are “finite public resources” for state-provided protective security and that it was for Ravec to decide who it took responsibility for.

The barrister told the court that details of Harry’s visit to a WellChild event in June 2021 were provided later than the 28 days’ notice required by Ravec.

On the day of the garden party, where the duke met seriously ill children, his car was chased by photographers as he left, it is understood.

The hearing before Mr Justice Lane is largely to be held in private, without the press or public present, due to confidential evidence over security measures being involved in the case.

The case is due to conclude on Thursday, with a ruling expected at a later date.

The security case is one of five High Court claims the duke is involved in, including extensive litigation against newspaper publishers.

Harry, who was not present at Tuesday’s hearing, lives in North America with wife Meghan and their children Archie and Lilibet after the couple announced they were stepping back as senior royals in January 2020.