The Black Spider Memos

A fascinating freedom of information/constitutional/administrative law case is winging its way to the UK Supreme Court.

It concerns 27 letters sent by Prince Charles to seven government ministers between September 2004 and April 2005 in which the heir to the throne lobbied for changes in policy.

A Freedom of Information tribunal decided in 2012 on the application of the Guardian newspaper that the Prince’s handwritten letters (dubbed the “black spider memos”) should be released because the public had a right to see how he had sought to influence government.

The Attorney General vetoed the tribunal’s decision and blocked publication, citing harm to the Prince’s ability to perform his duties neutrally when he becomes king.

The veto was challenged unsuccessfully at first instance, but last week an appeal court quashed the AG’s veto and ordered costs against the government.

The government has stated it will seek permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.


  1. Fascinating what is playing out in world theatre. Prince Charles, dancing the tarantella.
    Thanks for the post, John.

  2. Ooops, I see that your system didn’t accept the line that I copied & pasted. Legendary tarantella dance to dance out the venom of the spider. (I wonder why they’ve termed his letters “black spider”).

  3. Black spiders because of his handwriting.