UK

UK not home for Harry’s children ‘if not possible to keep them safe’, court told

The Duke of Sussex’s case over the change in his security arrangements is being heard in the High Court (Jordan Pettitt/PA)
The Duke of Sussex’s case over the change in his security arrangements is being heard in the High Court (Jordan Pettitt/PA) The Duke of Sussex’s case over the change in his security arrangements is being heard in the High Court (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

The Duke of Sussex believes his children cannot “feel at home” in the UK if it is “not possible to keep them safe” there, the High Court has heard.

In a written witness statement prepared for his legal challenge against the Home Office over a change to his security arrangements when visiting, Harry said he and his wife had been “forced” to leave the country in 2020.

At a hearing in London on Thursday, the duke’s barrister, Shaheed Fatima KC, said Harry did not accept that it was a “choice” for him to have stopped being a “full-time working member of the royal family”.

The lawyer read out an excerpt from the duke’s statement in which he said: “It was with great sadness for both of us that my wife and I felt forced to step back from this role and leave the country in 2020.

“The UK is my home. The UK is central to the heritage of my children and a place I want them to feel at home as much as where they live at the moment in the US. That cannot happen if it’s not possible to keep them safe when they are on UK soil.

“I cannot put my wife in danger like that and, given my experiences in life, I am reluctant to unnecessarily put myself in harm’s way too.”

Harry now faces a wait for a judge’s ruling on his legal action against the Home Office after a two-and-half-day hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice concluded on Thursday.

The duke’s lawyers are challenging the February 2020 decision of the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures (Ravec) to change the degree of his publicly funded security, arguing it was “unlawful and unfair”.

Duke of Sussex legal challenge
Duke of Sussex legal challenge Harry argued the decision to change the degree of his publicly funded security was ‘unlawful and unfair’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

The majority of the proceedings were held in private, without the public or press present, due to confidential evidence over security measures being involved in the case.

Ms Fatima has previously told the court that Harry was “singled out” and treated “less favourably” in a decision to change the level of his personal security.

She said Ravec failed to carry out a risk analysis and fully consider the impact of a “successful attack” on him.

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”.

But 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.

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”.

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 – Harry’s mother – was raised as part of the decision.

He 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.”

Mr Justice Lane will give his judgment over the case 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 the 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.