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  1. Media Law
May 14, 2015

Guardian’s Roy Greenslade hits out at rivals’ failure to ‘congratulate’ paper on Prince Charles letters victory

By William Turvill

Guardian media blogger Roy Greenslade has criticised rivals for failing to “congratulate” his newspaper on winning a ten-year Freedom of Information battle for the release of the Prince Charles “black spider” memos.

Greenslade, a former Daily Mirror editor, pointed to several newspapers’ coverage of the letters, which were released yesterday following reporter Rob Evans’ legal fight for disclosure.

Today, The Times, Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph and i newspapers joined The Guardian in leading on the story. And the news also featured on the front pages of The Independent, Sun, Daily Mail and Daily Express.

“So how did they react to the Guardian’s 10-year struggle, and eventual court victory, that resulted in the publication of letters between Prince Charles and government ministers?” asked Greenslade.

“Did they applaud the Guardian for its expenditure of time and resources in order to reveal the pressures applied by the heir to the throne on elected politicians? Did they hell.”

He noted that the Telegraph said in an editorial the supreme court’s decision to release the letters was “regrettable” and that Prince Charles “should be entitled to have a private exchange of views with ministers”. He also highlighted a piece by historian Andrew Roberts in which he described The Guardian as “foolish”.

Greenslade noted that The Times had given the letters good coverage, but added that “it could not bring itself to praise the Guardian for pursuing the matter”.

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On the Daily Mail, he said: “Paul Dacre just couldn’t bring himself to give credit where it was due.”

“The Sun, the paper that routinely intrudes into people’s privacy, thought the Guardian had secured‘a hollow victory’. ‘The Oxbridge revolutionaries’ had ‘battled for years to uncover the confidential documents’ which did no more than ‘prove is that the prince is well-meaning, reasonable and polite’,” Greenslade wrote.

“The Daily Mirror was delighted that ‘the public is at last free to read Prince Charles’s black spider memos to politicians’ because ‘in a democracy, people should have a right to know the issues a constitutional king-to-be is raising with government ministers’.

“But there was no word about the newspaper that ensured they have, at last, been revealed to the people.

“And the Independent? A long leader, Memos put an end to the ludicrous idea that Britain’s monarchy is politically neutral, made out a reasonable case for disclosure. But it did not mention the Guardian’s part in having brought it about.”

Greenslade said: “That’s press solidarity for you. One paper succeeds in a press freedom campaign. All its rivals devote pages to the consequent revelations. And none bother to congratulate it for its efforts. Truly, the Guardian is a paper apart.”

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