Sun, Nov 20, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Prince files lawsuit over leaked journal of HK trip


Britain's Prince Charles launched legal action on Friday against a newspaper that published details from his private journal, in which he described Chinese officials as "appalling old waxworks."

The prince's office said it had lodged papers at the High Court against Associated Newspapers, publishers of the Mail on Sunday, for breach of confidentiality and copyright.

The prince's journal, entitled The Handover of Hong Kong, or The Great Chinese Takeaway, contained the heir to the British throne's views on the 1997 transfer of Hong Kong to the Chinese.

The prince's office, Clarence House, said Charles had sent 11 copies of the journal to close friends and that the newspaper had obtained a copy without his permission.

Sir Michael Peat, Charles's principal private secretary, said the newspaper was clearly warned not to publish the extracts.

"We have made this clear to the Mail on Sunday on five occasions, both orally and in writing," Peat said. "Nevertheless, the Mail on Sunday proceeded to publish these extracts despite the knowledge that it was a breach of the Prince of Wales's copyright and confidence."

In a statement, the Mail on Sunday said it did not accept that the story involved any breach of copyright or confidentiality.

"This was not a private journal. It was widely distributed and viewed, as Clarence House confirmed to us, as a historic document intended for eventual publication,'' the newspaper said in a statement, adding that the story "raised important questions about Britain's relations with China.''

The Mail on Sunday defended how it received the journal excerpts, and suggested the prince's office was trying to censor the media.

According to the paper, Charles recounted in his journal a ceremony he attended with then Chinese president Jiang Zemin (江澤民).

"After my speech, the president detached himself from the group of appalling old waxworks who accompanied him and took his place at the lectern," Charles wrote.

"He then gave a kind of `propaganda' speech which was loudly cheered by the bussed-in party faithful at the suitable moment in the text," the prince wrote.

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