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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 11:03 GMT
Prince Charles denies 'ludicrous' claims
The prince said "this allegation is untrue"
The Prince of Wales has denied allegations he was involved in an unspecified incident witnessed by a servant.

Details of the claims cannot be published for legal reasons and Prince Charles issued a statement on Thursday night, saying "this allegation is untrue".

The denial came after the Guardian newspaper won a High Court battle to name former royal aide Michael Fawcett as the person trying to stop the claims being printed by the Mail on Sunday.

The Mail on Sunday was blocked on Saturday night from publishing a story about Mr Fawcett.

The Guardian won its case on Thursday after telling the court it had no intention of repeating the allegations, but had a right to name Mr Fawcett.

The incident which the former employee claims to have witnessed did not take place
Statement from Prince Charles

The statement from the Prince, who is in Oman on an official visit, was issued from Clarence House, his official residence.

It said: "In recent days, there have been media reports concerning an allegation that a former Royal Household employee witnessed an incident some years ago involving a senior member of the Royal Family.

"The speculation needs to be brought to an end.

"The allegation was that the Prince of Wales was involved in the incident.

"This allegation is untrue. The incident which the former employee claims to have witnessed did not take place."

'Sadness'

The statement said the allegation had been made by a former Royal employee - not Mr Fawcett - "who, unfortunately, has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and has previously suffered from alcoholism following active service in the Falklands".

Michael Fawcett
Former royal servant Michael Fawcett also denies the allegations
The prince himself appeared relaxed on Friday morning as he toured a 17th Century fort near Muscat in Oman.

He greeted an awaiting photographer with the words: "I knew you'd be here. I can't do without you."

He later joked to other photographers who were preparing to take his picture: "There's a lot of reflected heat around here."

The Mail on Sunday had been expected to return to the High Court on Friday to challenge the original injunction won against it.

But it said on Friday it believed the terms of the injunction had been relaxed, and there was no longer any need to head to court.

The most senior judge in England and Wales, speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Friday, defended the use of injunctions in some cases, saying they were necessary to prevent "very serious damage" to people's reputations.

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Woolf, who stressed he was talking generally and not about any specific case, said he supported the use of injunctions where necessary to protect those who had not had the chance to give their side of the story.

"Unless the courts have this residual power, which they don't normally use, to protect the individual, very serious damage can be done to that individual before that individual has the opportunity to defend himself," he said.

There probably is a concern that it will get out - and when it does, their denial is out there and they hope it will somehow devalue the currency of whatever is printed
The BBC's Peter Hunt

The prince's private secretary Sir Michael Peat conceded it was "rather unusual to make a statement about an unspecified allegation".

"However, this allegation is becoming common currency, it is the subject of much speculation and innuendo and I just want to make it entirely clear, even though I can't refer to the specifics of the allegation, that it is totally untrue and without a shred of substance."

'Libellous'

Sir Michael said the allegation was "ludicrous".

Prince Charles had told him it was untrue, and the person who had made the claim had made other allegations which were later found to be unsubstantiated, he said.

He added: "Anyone who is a prominent public figure like the Prince of Wales is subject to a fairly steady stream of outlandish allegations.

Anyone who knows the Prince of Wales at all would appreciate that the allegation is totally ludicrous and, indeed, risible
Sir Michael Peat
Prince Charles' private secretary

"Generally they are dismissed and treated on their merits. For some reason this one doesn't seen to have been."

Mr Fawcett had argued that his name should not be revealed, as the publication of the story would seriously libel him.

But the Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger said it would have set a dangerous precedent.

In March, Mr Fawcett was cleared of serious malpractice after a report alleged wrongdoing at St James's Palace - the prince's former residence - but he resigned as the prince's aide.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Matt Prodger
"The Mail on Sunday was prevented from printing details of the allegations"


Sir Michael Peat, Prince Charles's private secretary
"I want to make it entirely clear that it's without a shred of substance"



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