Prince Harry’s long-running legal battle against the Home Office’s decision to cut its police protections in the UK has so far cost taxpayers more than £235,600.
The bill has more than doubled in six months as the Duke of Sussex’s challenge to the Government’s reduction of its security measures continues.
The Duke and his wife Meghan Markle stepped down from royal duties in early 2020 when they relocated to Montecito, California.
The move, dubbed “Megxit,” followed the Home Office’s decision that he would not receive the “same level” of personal protection, despite the Duke offering to pay for it himself. Government lawyers said his bid was “irrelevant” to how officials make decisions about the safety of the royal family.
Britain’s former head of counter-terrorism shed new light on the prince’s challenge this week when he said Meghan had faced credible threats to her life while the couple lived in the UK.
Neil Basu described the plans as “very real” and said they were being investigated by Scotland Yard teams when he stepped down as Met Deputy Commissioner.
The prince has previously said through his legal team that he “inherited a security threat from birth” as his young family faced “well-documented threats from neo-Nazis and extremists”.
The total cost for the Home Office up to November 10 is £235,604.39, according to information released by Metro.co.uk following a Freedom of Information Act request.
The amount has more than doubled since a running total of £90,000 was announced in July 2022.
The bulk of the bill is for government legal fees, which totaled £154,004.64, followed by legal fees of £80,599.20, the record shows.
The bill is further broken down into court fees of £660, a courier bill of £16.55 and electronic disclosure costs of £324.
The prince, 38, said his own private security team does not have appropriate jurisdiction abroad, which would include access to local intelligence agencies and operating under statutory law enforcement.
He appealed the Home Office’s refusal to the High Court in September 2021 and received a judicial review examining the legitimacy of a public body’s decision.
As the published judgment shows, the challenge was upheld on a number of grounds, but not all requested by the Prince’s legal team.
The application was allowed on the basis that he should have been informed of the security policy before the refusal was issued and he should have had the opportunity to bring his case before the decision-making body, the Royal and VIP Executive Committee (Ravec).
A legal representative for Prince Harry said he wanted to “challenge the decision-making behind the security procedures in the hope that this could be re-evaluated for the obvious and necessary protection”.
The request followed a security incident in July 2021 when the Duke’s car was followed by photographers as he left a charity event at Kew Gardens.
His legal team said “his safety has been compromised due to the lack of police protection”.
Decisions to protect the royal family and important public figures are taken by Ravec, which is administered by the Ministry of the Interior. Its members include the department, the Metropolitan Police and the Royal Household, who work together to advise an independent chairman on decision-making.
The bill does not reflect the time of Home Office officials, as the department said in response it was “not possible to quantify the amount”.
The Duke and Duchess are said to have privately funded security arrangements in the US, where they live with their children Archie, three, and one-year-old Lilibet.
Meghan, 41, was the target of “disgusting and very real” death threats when the couple lived in the UK, according to Mr Basu.
When asked on Channel 4 News if her life was in danger, he replied: “Absolutely. We had teams investigating it. People have been prosecuted for these threats.’
In the interview, which aired on Wednesday, the former head of royal protection said the duchess had been targeted by the far right and anyone exposed to the “rhetoric” published online “would feel threatened all the time”.
In January, the Duke’s legal team said: “The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are personally funding a private security team for their family, but this security cannot reproduce the level of police protection required while in the UK.
“Without such protection, Prince Harry and his family cannot return to his home. The Duke first offered to personally pay for British police protection for himself and his family in Sandringham in January 2020.
“This offer was declined. He remains willing to shoulder security costs so as not to burden the UK taxpayer.
“As is well known, others who have left public office and face an inherent risk of threats receive free police protection.
“The goal for Prince Harry was simple – to ensure the safety of himself and his family while he was in the UK so that his children could experience his homeland.”
Metro.co.uk has reached out to the Duke and Duchess’ representatives for further comment.
A Government spokesman said: “The UK Government’s protection regime is strict and proportionate.
“It has been our longstanding policy not to provide detailed information about these agreements as doing so could compromise their integrity and compromise the safety of individuals.
“It would not be appropriate to comment on ongoing legal proceedings.”
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/12/04/prince-harrys-battle-for-police-protection-costs-taxpayers-230000-17861163/ Prince Harry's battle for police protection is costing taxpayers £230,000