A High Court judge in London has criticised lawyers for Britain’s Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex (pictured), for breaching an embargo on a draft ruling.
According to the Law Society Gazette of England and Wales, the draft ruling was linked to the duke’s judicial review against the Home Office in a dispute over police protection.
Mr Justice Swift’s ruling allowed some details contained in court documents for the judicial-review case to be kept confidential.
The judge, however, described the decision to share the draft judgment with Tim Robinson – a partner at law firm Schillings who specialises in reputation management, and is not a qualified lawyer – as “entirely unacceptable”.
The Gazette said that he was also critical of the duke’s legal team for not reporting the breach to the court before yesterday (23 March), asking: “Why did it take a week to report this?”
Having handed down his ruling, Swift told the duke’s counsel Shaheed Fatima QC: “It seems to me clear that there was a breach of the embargo in this case. The draft judgment should not have been provided to Mr Robinson.”
He described the move as an “obvious breach of the terms on which the draft judgment was provided”.
Referring to the notice at the top of the draft judgment, Swift added: “What it says is what it means, and it is, or should be, very well known to those who practise in this court.”
He asked Fatima why the breach had not been reported to him immediately. She replied: “We were considering whether or not there had been a breach.”
Fatima said that the duke’s legal team had been considering “Mr Robinson’s status”, prompting Swift to ask: “Are you saying that you did not consider that there had been a breach until yesterday?”
She said yes and added that “we do not think there has been a breach”’, to which Swift said: “Well, let me disabuse you of that – there has been a breach.”
Swift told Fatima that the breach was “entirely unacceptable”, adding: “It is also unacceptable that you have come here without an apology to the court.”