Friday, 4 November 2011

Duchy of Cornwall: All-Change For Charles Windsor

Prince Charles, or more correctly Charles Windsor, must be hopping mad. Information Tribunal judges have ruled that his personal cash-cow, the Duchy of Cornwall, is a "public authority". The Duchy estate, which owns large swathes of land across Cornwall and elsewhere, has been obliged by the ruling to disclose environmental data under the Freedom of Information Act.

The judgement undermines 700 years of the Duchy as the heir to the throne's feudal domain, and may lead to wide-reaching consequences for Windsor and his affairs. Making the Duchy subject to Environmental Information Regulations (EIR), which are part of the FoI regime, could also be a step toward revealing details of Windsor's newly-exposed penchant for vetoing Parliamentary bills affecting his financial interests.

Recently the FoI Act was amended to exempt the Monarch and the first two royals in line to the throne. However, that doesn't apply to environmental legislation such as EIRs, which are subject to a public interest test. Father-of-one Windsor and his advisors had maintained the Duchy isn't a public authority under EIR, and so didn't have to respond to the request for data. Sadly the judges have pronounced otherwise.

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