Prince Charles' lawyers assert his right to privacy in suit against newspaper and source

Prince Charles has a right to keep his diaries to himself, his lawyer argued Tuesday in a case claiming that a newspaper and a former employee breached his rights to confidentiality and copyright.

Charles is seeking a ruling from a British High Court judge that the Mail on Sunday newspaper breached his rights by reporting extracts of a private diary in which he described some Chinese officials as "appalling old waxworks."

Charles claims the diaries, which include his reflections on the end of British colonial rule in Hong Kong in 1997, were copied by a former member of his staff and given to the newspaper.

The prince's lawyer, Hugh Tomlinson, also asked for the return of seven other diaries allegedly copied by the employee.

"We are not dealing with state secrets," Tomlinson said.

"We are dealing with an ordinary type of personal journal of the type that any citizen might make in respect of a foreign trip, recording thoughts and impressions.

"We say it is absolutely vital to the position of the claimant and anyone else in his position that this sort of document cannot be published willy nilly by the press and that is the reason we brought this action."

Charles recognized that he was the subject of public comment and criticism, Tomlinson said.

"What he says, however, is that like everyone else from the humblest private citizen to the highest public figure he is entitled to keep his personal documents private."

Mark Bolland, who worked as the Prince's assistant private secretary from 1996 to 1997 and as his deputy private secretary until 2002, is giving evidence for the Sunday newspaper.

In a witness statement released to the media Tuesday, Bolland said the prince considered himself a political dissident, and in 1999 chose not to attend a state dinner at the Chinese embassy as a "deliberate snub", reports AP.


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