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17/3/2006 3:31:09 PM |
( Source: Reuters)
Charles wins partial victory in court
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON (Reuters) - Prince Charles won a partial victory on Friday in a legal battle to keep his diaries private but may yet suffer the embarrassment of seeing more revealing extracts appear in print.
The heir to the throne was suing the Mail on Sunday for publishing parts of a journal covering a trip to Asia for the 1997 handover of Hong Kong to China, during which he referred to Chinese officials as "appalling old waxworks".
The royal family is expected to steer clear of political controversy, although 57-year-old Charles frequently expresses his views and is well known for his opposition to genetically modified foods and much modern architecture.
The ruling in London's High Court bans the paper from printing more of the so-called Hong Kong journal but there must now be a hearing to rule on possible publication of extracts from seven other of the prince's journals in the newspaper's possession
The judge indicated, however, that he would rule in the same way for the seven other diaries as he had done for the Hong Kong journal.
In addition to claiming that the journals are confidential, Charles also says they are original literary works and therefore protected by copyright law.
Lawyers said the new hearing would be a "technicality", but it left open the possibility of further embarrassing revelations from the other journals emerging in court.
A spokesman for the prince said that although the hearing would be a full trial, there was no prospect of the eldest son of the Queen being called to give evidence.
"Our expectation is that it is a short hearing that won't require the prince to appear," he said.
Charles had wanted a summary judgement to cover all the diaries, thereby avoiding a full trial.
The Prince's Principal Private Secretary Michael Peat told reporters on Friday Charles was pleased with the outcome.
"He was disappointed that we had to bring these legal proceedings to begin with (but) he's clearly pleased that he's won on all points," he said, adding that Charles would give all the damages awarded to him to his own charity.
A lawyer for the newspaper said it would appeal against Friday's judgement, which she said raised important press freedom issues.
"It cannot be legitimate for the prince to claim the right to engage in political controversy and at the same time deny the public the right to know that he is doing so," she told reporters outside the court.
The judge rejected claims by the newspaper that publication of the Hong Kong journal which the prince titled "The Handover of Hong Kong" or "The Great Chinese Takeaway" had been in the public interest.
Peat also defended the Prince's right to keep a diary and circulate them to close friends.
"He enjoys writing and what he writes in due course will be thought of as important historical records," he said.
Understanding people and some people, perhaps ....