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Police officers are not for hire as “private bodyguards for the wealthy”, Home Office tells Prince Harry

As Prince Harry is after review of the decision not to allow him to pay for the guards, a court told the Duke’s offer to pay for security would set an “unacceptable” precedent.

Prince Harry was told by the Home Office that there are some things money can’t buy – including personal armed police guards.

The estranged Duke is pressing on with a legal bid to maintain, when in Britain, the Royal and Specialist Protection command (RASP) armed squad who protected him when he was a working royal, before the acrimonious fall-out with his family.

When told he no longer qualified for its protection after leaving for America with wife Meghan, his offer to pay for it was declined.

Now he is arguing in court he should have been allowed to do so, in the same way football clubs pay for officers to maintain order at matches.

But a barrister for the Home Secretary told London’s Royal Courts of Justice that the Duke of Sussex’s offer to pay for the expert Metropolitan police protection had rightly been dismissed, as it would set an “unacceptable” precedent.

Robert Palmer KC told the court, including three barristers representing Prince Harry: “Officers are expected to place themselves in harm’s way to protect the principal [Royal under protection] and in the public interest.

“It’s different from ordinary policing, and can only be provided when the public interest requires it.

“It is inconsistent with those principles for a private individual to be able to pay for that security.”

If Prince Harry were to be allowed to pay for the RASP armed squad to guard him, said Mr Palmer, it would mean that such protection was available to the wealthy, but not those with less money.

“It would be deleterious to public confidence in the police force to provide this,” the barrister for the Home Secretary added.

Prince Harry is currently entangled in six legal cases at London’s High Court, most involving media coverage.

He already has one other in the works over the refusal to maintain his armed guards on visits home from California – and has been granted a forthcoming judicial review on the initial decision he no longer qualified for free protection.

“Anyone else can apply to request protection,” Prince Harry’s lead barrister said

Yesterday he launched a fresh aligned case, seeking a judicial review of the decision not to allow him to pay for the guards.

He claims the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty, RAVEC, did not have the powers to turn down his money offer, and that it should be reconsidered anew by the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police instead.

His lead barrister Shaheed Fatima KC told the court “the process doesn’t make sense”, as anyone else would have been able to apply directly to the Commissioner to request protection, and indeed to offer to pay.

The way he had been rejected, the barrister said, suggested “he is being treated less favourably than everyone else”.

And she argued there was clear precedent for the police being paid to supply officers elsewhere, with the court hearing examples included football matches, festivals, marathons, cycle races, and even a celebrity wedding.

Ms Fatima added that it was wrong Prince Harry had not been invited to submit arguments and evidence to RAVEC, which oversees the work of the RASP armed protection command.

The Home Office argued that RAVEC was not required to consider submissions from anyone, pointing out that Royal Family representatives sit on the committee, along with a senior police officer.

“Allowing an individual to pay for private security would create a precedent”

And it has pointed out it would not accept offers from anyone to pay for such specialist armed police security, with the decision being a general principle, not just applying to Prince Harry.

Mr Palmer KC said the committee considered that “it was not appropriate to support an outcome whereby wealthy individuals could ‘buy’ protective security from specialist police officers.

“That would be precisely the effect of the [duke’s] claim.”

Ms Fatima said the estranged Royal first offered to pay for his own UK security in a meeting with palace staff in January 2020 – the month when he and Meghan announced that they were stepping away from official duties and living overseas.

But the Metropolitan Police Service told the court it supported the Home Office’s decision on Prince Harry’s claim.

Matthew Butt KC, for the Met, told the judge: “It is wrong for a policing body to place officers in harm’s way upon payment of a fee by a private individual.

“It would be unjust to allow a wealthy principal to pay for private security when this would be denied a principal who did not benefit from such resources, and would divert resources from those deemed to warrant protective security.

“And to allow an individual to pay for private security would create a precedent. Other wealthy individuals could argue they too should be permitted to pay.”

Judgement was reserved and will be fed into Prince Harry’s parallel case arguing he qualifies for police armed protection in the first place.

(Source: Daily Mail)

(Image: By Mark Jones, via Flickr)

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