February 25

Newspaper’s behaviour even more reprehensible

More information reveals that the behaviour of the Mail on Sunday in publishing a private journal of the Prince of Wales was even more reprehensible than appeared before.

This is set out in a report in the Daily Telegraph of 22 February, 2006, by Caroline Davies,headlined : “Secretary got cold feet, realising her terrible mistake

Sir Michael Peat, the Prince’s principal private secretary, said in his witness statement that the duties of a member of staff, Miss Sarah Goodall, had included photocopying the Prince’s hand-written travel journals and distributing them to chosen recipients. She was dismissed in 2000 for reasons unrelated to this case.

Miss Goodall admitted to another member of the Prince’s staff that she had made copies of some extracts from the journals which she thought were amusing. She then took them home thinking that one day the journals might be worth publishing.

She had recently thought of selling them to the newspapers. So she asked a friend to approach the Mail on Sunday. The Mail had been given "about 50 pages".

But her lawyer then warned her not to sell. She asked the Mail to return them but her friend said the newspaper had refused.

Copies were later given to Miss Goodall by the newspaper, and Miss Goodall returned these to the Prince’s office.

Sir Michael contacted the 21 recipients of the 14 copies of the Hong Kong Journal and they all assured him their copies were safe.

On Nov 5,2005 the Mail on Sunday phoned the Prince’s press office and asked for comments on the Hong Kong Journal. When the Prince’s solicitors intervened the Mail undertook not to publish the journal at that time.

But then,on 10 November, 2005, the Mail gave notice to Clarence House that it intended to publish. Sir Michael warned the editor that publication would amount to a breach of copyright and confidence, but the Mail arrogantly went ahead, claiming publication of this purloined material was in the public interest

As Boris Johnson, MP and former editor of The Spectator writes, this is “an utterly pitiful defence.”

His piece appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 23 February, 2006 under the title: “Go on Charles: babble, rage and ignore the treacherous toads”.

The diaries were stolen, and unlawfully photocopied by the paper. The Prince, Mr. Johnson says, has as much right as anyone else to protection of his private writing. Anything he says in his diaries has a “completely different status from anything he says in public”

Mr. Johnson writes that you won’t read much of that in the papers this week. This is because “every editor in the world wants to establish the principle that they can print whatever the hell they want”.

He says that the Prince is far less powerful than the” meanest minister" in the government, and he is "of course much less powerful than the editors of the Daily Mail and the Mail on Sunday.”

“Indeed,” writes Mr. Johnson,” it is a measure of his lack of gravitational pull that this ex-courtier Bolland has so readily decided to betray his boss and say things that he hopes will be obliging to the Mail. And yet it is, of course, this very powerlessness that gives the Prince his value.”

It is inconceivable that this palpably sham defence of acting in the public interest in publishing private papers, papers which even the thief had wanted returned, could possibly stand.



Link to Boris Johnson’s opinion piece


Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, Prince of Wales

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