Brit daily wins right to disclose Queen's finances

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London, Dec. 21 (ANI): Secret correspondence between the Government and Buckingham Palace concerning the growing public cost of the Royal Family is to be released to The Independent after three years of campaigning.

In a far-reaching ruling, the Government must disclose more than 100 letters and memos written by ministers and members of the Royal Household during negotiations over public subsidies paid to the Queen for the upkeep of her palaces.

The Information Commissioner's decision deals a severe blow to the Royal Family's efforts to ensure correspondence between the Palace and the Government is not caught by the public's right-to-know law.

Royal aides warned ministers that they did not want the letters disclosed to The But the Deputy Commissioner, Graham Smith, said the public interest in releasing the letters and other documents outweighed the Royal Family's right to protection under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Government had also argued against disclosure because it claimed that publishing the documents would inhibit the free and frank exchange of views between ministers and so prejudice the conduct of public affairs.

But the Commissioner said the exemption was overruled by the public interest and that disclosure would "increase transparency and accountability" in the awarding of grants to the Royal Household.

He said that by withholding the information, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had breached the terms of the Freedom of Information legislation, which Labour introduced in 2000. The Government has been given 35 days to surrender the correspondence to The Independent.

MPs and republican groups have criticised the lack of transparency over the public money given to the royals, who have spent 41.5 million pounds in 2009, which is 1.5 million pounds more than last year.

The documents will shed light on the extent of the financial crisis at the Palace as the Queen tries to balance her books.

Palace officials admit they are still locked in a battle with Whitehall after the DCMS rejected a request for extra funds to repair the crumbling royal palaces, leaving the Queen in despair at her "patch and mend monarchy". (ANI)

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