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Saturday, 2 February, 2002, 10:51 GMT
Palace denies tabloid ties
Prince Harry
Burning issue: Harry drugs story sparked claims
Prince Charles' private secretary is denying claims that a tabloid newspaper was given approval to publish revelations about Prince Harry's drug taking.

The Daily Telegraph claims St James's Palace enjoys "too cosy a relationship" with certain sections of the media and the Press Complaints Commission (PCC).

To have claimed that under-age and experimental drug use were entirely private matters would have been unsustainable

Stephen Lamport
The allegations have prompted Prince Charles' secretary Stephen Lamport, two national newspaper editors and the PCC's director Guy Black to write to the paper to defend themselves.

The Telegraph, which says the joint response proves its point, claims the PCC gave the News of the World the "green light" to publish intrusive reports about Prince Harry.

In contrast, the paper points to the commission's decision earlier this week to uphold a complaint from Prime Minister Tony Blair that the Telegraph had invaded his son Euan's privacy.

Joint mail

The News of the World claimed Prince Harry had drunk with friends at a pub near his father's Highgrove country estate and smoked marijuana last summer while only 16.

The palace did not deny the allegations and instead Prince Charles sent his youngest son to a south London rehabilitation clinic for a day so he could talk to recovering addicts and see the dangers of drug use.

In a letter to the paper, Mr Lamport said the palace did not ask the PCC for advice because the issue of privacy did not arise.

The News of the World front cover
St James's Palace said it could not claim the issue was entirely private
"For us to have claimed that under-age and experimental drug use were entirely private matters would have been unsustainable," he said.

"We did however telephone the PCC's director to inform him how we were dealing with it."

Mr Black said the PCC had never "cleared" a story for publication and did not have the power to do so.

"In relation to the story about Prince Harry and drugs we were never asked for a view by anyone and did not give one."

News of the World editor Rebekah Wade described the Telegraph's allegations as "nonsense".

In an editorial on the same page, the Telegraph repeated its claim of a cosy relationship between the tabloids, the palace and the PCC.

The letters, the paper said, arrived within 45 minutes of each other.

"We feel that our point is proved," it added.

See also:

14 Jan 02 | UK
Queen backs Harry action
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