Prince Charles fails in new legal battle over journals

The Prince of Wales has failed in new High Court moves to retrieve leaked personal journals from the Mail on Sunday without the need for a fully contested court battle.

His lawyers asked the High Court to grant summary judgment – judgment without the need for a full hearing – in his claim that the journals should be returned to him in the wake of a Court of Appeal victory last year when it was held that the leaking and publication of his journal relating to the handover of Honk Kong was a breach of both his copyright and confidentiality.

His lawyers argued this week that the same principles that applied to the Hong Kong journal also apply to the other seven.

However, Mr Justice Blackburne, on Monday adjourned the Princes claim for summary judgment for a one-day hearing in the week beginning 21 May, to allow the Mail on Sunday to file evidence on issues raised that it claims are different from those that applied to the Hong Kong journal.

By then it is also hoped that an application to the House of Lords by the paper for permission to appeal against last year's ruling will have been decided.

The Prince's counsel, Hugh Tomlinson QC, argued this week that the Mail on Sunday had failed so "spectacularly" over the Hong Kong journal there was only one way any legal battle over the other seven could go, and that was in favour of his client. He said the Mail on Sunday had had the journals for 18 months and were engaged in a "time wasting exercise."

However, the paper's counsel, Pushpinder Saini, said they wanted to argue that there was "public interest" in the contents of the journals being published.

The judge was also told that the Mail on Sunday is also currently applying to the House of Lords for permission to appeal against the Court of Appeal decision.

In adjourning the case he said that the paper should be given time to put in evidence and argue their case and also indicated that by the time the case returns to court it is likely that the Law Lords will made up their minds about whether to hear and appeal.

Prince Charles brought legal action after the newspaper published extracts from his diary about the handover – entitled The Handover Of Hong Kong or The Great Chinese Takeaway – in which he referred to members of the Chinese hierarchy as "appalling old waxworks".

All eight journals were disclosed to the newspaper by Sarah Goodall, a former secretary in the Prince's office, even though she had signed a confidentiality agreement.

Publishers Associated Newspapers have given an undertaking not to publish details of the other seven journals without telling the Prince's lawyers first.


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