Harry loses court bid over UK police protection
By Michael Holden and Sam Tobin
LONDON (Reuters) -Prince Harry on Tuesday lost his legal bid to challenge the British government's refusal to let him pay for his own police protection when he is in the United Kingdom.
Harry, King Charles' younger son, was stripped of the police security usually afforded to royal figures in the United Kingdom after he and his American wife Meghan stepped down from their official roles in 2020 to move to the United States.
The High Court in London last year already agreed he should be allowed to challenge the original decision to end his protection. But on Tuesday it rejected his bid for a second court review over the rejection of his offer to pay privately for the highly-trained officers.
The decision to remove publicly-funded security was taken by the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures, known by the acronym RAVEC, which approves security for the royals and VIPs, such as the prime minister.
Last week, lawyers for Harry had argued RAVEC did not have the power to reject his funding offer, and even if it did have such authority, it was wrong not to consider an exception or hear representations on his behalf.
However, lawyers for the police and the government said it would be wrong to allow the fifth-in-line to the throne to pay, as it would mean wealthy individuals were able to "buy" specially trained officers as private bodyguards.
They argued it would be unreasonable for officers to be required to put themselves in harm's way if the committee had already considered it was not in the public's or the state's interest to do so.
It was very different to paying for policing for a soccer match, a marathon, or even a celebrity's wedding, they said.
In his written ruling, Judge Martin Chamberlain agreed.
"RAVEC's reasoning was that there are policy reasons why those services should not be made available for payment, even though others are. I can detect nothing that is arguably irrational in that reasoning," he said.
His ruling comes less than a week after Harry's spokesperson said the prince, his wife Meghan and her mother were involved in a "near catastrophic" car chase with press photographers after an awards ceremony in New York.
The prince has spoken out about his fears for the safety of his family and regularly hit out at press intrusion which he blames for the death of his mother Princess Diana, who was killed when her limousine crashed as it sped away from chasing paparazzi in Paris in 1997.
Meanwhile last year, Britain's former counter-terrorism police chief said there had been credible threats made against the couple by far-right extremists.
The case is one of a number that Harry is currently pursuing at the High Court. His lawyers are also involved in a trial where he and others are suing Mirror Group Newspapers over allegations of phone-hacking and other unlawful activities.
Harry is also suing the publisher of the Mail on Sunday newspaper for libel over an article that alleged he only offered to pay for police protection after the start of his legal case against the British government.
(editing by Sarah Young, Sachin Ravikumar, Alexandra Hudson)