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Last Updated: Friday, 17 March 2006, 15:24 GMT
Prince wins diary privacy battle
The Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles at Cheltenham Races
The prince will not be required to give evidence, says Clarence House
The Prince of Wales has won a legal battle stopping the publication of his Hong Kong diary, but must go to trial to stop seven others being published.

The prince's lawyers argued he was entitled to keep his travel journals, in which he called himself a "political dissident", private.

His private secretary Sir Michael Peat said the prince was pleased he had "won on all points".

The Mail on Sunday is to appeal the decision regarding the Hong Kong diary.

It was a matter of principle over a stolen document being made public
Sir Michael Peat

Sir Michael Peat described the judgment as "an excellent outcome".

"When we brought legal proceedings we brought them with regret," he said.

"There was nothing in the Hong Kong journal that we were ashamed of.

"It was a matter of principle over a stolen document being made public."

Sir Michael said the judge awarded the prince 80% of his legal costs and any damages awarded would be given to charity.

It cannot be legitimate for the prince to claim the right to engage in political controversy and deny the public the right to know that he is doing so
Mail on Sunday

Clarence House said the trial over the remaining diaries - which are still held by the Mail on Sunday - would involve a one-day hearing, and would not involve the Prince of Wales giving evidence.

The paper has agreed not to publish any extracts from them without giving the prince 24 hours warning.

The prince took action after the newspaper published 1997 diary extracts about the Hong Kong handover - entitled The Handover of Hong Kong or The Great Chinese Takeaway - in which he referred to the Chinese hierarchy as "appalling old waxworks".

The hearings involved disclosures by a former top aide of the prince describing the inner workings of his private office and how he sees himself as a "political dissident".

Press freedom

Associated Newspapers, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday, said it would seek to appeal against the decision not to take the Hong Kong journal issues to a full hearing.

And it reiterated its claims that their story raised important questions regarding press freedom.

"We believe our report, and this legal action, both raise very serious questions about the constitutional role of the heir to the throne, and the freedom of the press.

"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," it said in a statement.

Mr Justice Blackburne had been told that Prince Charles wrote journals on foreign trips to send to his friends and family like other people wrote letters and, it was argued, he was entitled to keep those private thoughts and observations secret.

Arguments that the journals should be published in the public interest were "far-fetched", his lawyer Hugh Tomlinson QC argued in the trial.


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