By Farouq Suleiman
LONDON (Reuters) - A lawyer for Prince Harry argued in court on Thursday that the royal household should not have been involved in a UK government decision to deny him police protection while in Britain.
Harry, who moved to the United States two years ago with his wife Meghan to lead a more independent life, is challenging the decision for him to cease receiving police protection even if he covers the cost himself.
Prince Harry's lawyer, Shaheed Fatima, told a High Court hearing that the queen's private secretary Edward Young was part of the organisation that decided Harry should no longer receive the same degree of protection after he stopped being a working royal.
Fatima said that Harry did not know at the time that members from the royal household were involved in the decision and that certain members should not have been.
"He did not know at that stage the royal household was involved at all. He said he was told that it was an independent decision," she said.
The decision was made in February 2020 by the Executive Committee for the Protection of Royalty and Public Figures [RAVEC], on behalf of the Home Office.
Harry's lawyers said he had been denied the opportunity to make representations to the committee and that his offer to pay for security was not conveyed to them before the decision was made.
"It is arguable that, if there had been a fair process, RAVEC would or could have reached a different decision,” his lawyers said.
The Home Office legal team said Prince Harry’s request for a judicial review of the decision should be denied because the “tensions” between him and the royal household were irrelevant and it was his change in status to a non-working royal that had led to the decision of RAVEC.
"RAVEC (is) not bound to offer protection on a permanent automatic basis," Home Office lawyer James Eadie said.
The state's lawyers said in court papers that if Harry's application was refused it would seek all costs incurred.
"The public purse should not have to bear the cost of the conduct of this litigation and a claim which ought not to have been brought at all," the Home Office added.
The court said it would aim to decide by the end of the month whether to grant a full judicial review of the decision to discontinue protection for Harry.
(Reporting by Farouq Suleiman; Editing by Frances Kerry)