MP for Northampton North defends government decision to block Prince Charles letters from publication

Northampton North MP Michael Ellis believes successive governments were right to try to block the publication of a series of Prince Charles’ letters sent to high ranking politicians.

The so called ‘black spider letters’ written by the future king and delivered to various Whitehall departments in 2004 and 2005 were finally published yesterday following a ten-year legal battle.

In them Prince Charles expressed concerns over a range of topics, from the quality of frontline miliary equipment in Iraq, to calls for a wider badger cull and a desire to halt the illegal fishing of the Patagonian Toothfish.

It is understood successive government’s have spent more than £274,000 trying to halt the publication of the letters, and many more written since the mid-2000s, under the Freedom of Information Act.

But Northampton North MP Michael Ellis, an expert on the monarchy and the constitution who met Prince Charles when the heir to he Throne visited Crockett & Jones shoe factory in 2013, says they were right to do so.

He said: “I don’t think the money is the point - it is a matter of principle.

“It should be possible for anyone in this country to write a private letter, I think the government’s were right.”

But when asked whether he thought Charles was ‘intruding’ in government matters he disagreed.

“We have a constitutional monarchy, and our prince must be able to talk to politicians freely,” he said.

In response to the letters being published Clarence House said the Prince had a right to ‘private communication’ and believed the publication might said the publication might inhibit his ability to express the concerns and suggestions which have been put to him in the course of his travels and meetings’.

But Mr Ellis believes the prince comes out of the letters well.

He said: “I think this is a man who cares passionately about issues and concerns that reflect the interests of the British people.

“These letters show that in many ways he was ahead of the curve.

“He was sometimes well ahead of the politicians in terms of the issues he deals with.”