Biden administration pleads with court to keep Prince Harry’s visa document under wraps

biden administration pleads with court to keep prince harry’s visa document under wraps

Heritage Foundation demanding to see the records related to the Prince's visa application in March 2020 - AP

The Biden administration has pleaded with a court to keep a law enforcement document relating to Prince Harry’s visa application under wraps.

Lawyers for the Department of Homeland Security claimed there would be a “stigma attached” if the documents were released.

Its appeal was contained in a 53-page transcript of a court hearing in February, over a demand from the conservative Heritage Foundation for the details of the Prince’s application to be made public.

At the heart of the dispute is what he told the American authorities about his prior drug use.

In his memoir, Spare, the Duke of Sussex admitted to taking cocaine, marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms.

Although having taken drugs in the past is not necessarily grounds for automatic exclusion from the US, lying about doing so in a visa application would normally lead to somebody being barred from the country.

The Heritage Foundation has filed a freedom of information application demanding to see the records related to the Prince’s visa application in March 2020.

However, the foundation’s application has been repeatedly blocked by the Department on the grounds of the Prince’s entitlement to privacy.

During February’s hearing, the court challenged John Bardo, the Department’s lawyer, on the justification for not publishing its records.

“Many of these records, your honour, are law enforcement records,” Mr Bardo replied.

“So there is a stigma associated with being mentioned in a law enforcement record.”

Mr Bardo added that publishing the files would expose “confidential law enforcement tools”.

He continued: “The government has cited multiple cases in its brief about the private nature of immigration records and about the fact that people who are public figures still maintain their privacy interests.”

The fate of the Prince has also become a political issue, with Donald Trump saying in March he would take “appropriate action” if the Prince was found to have lied about his drug use in his immigration application.

However, Jane Hartley, the US ambassador to the UK, when asked about whether the Prince risked deportation, told Sky News: “It’s not gonna happen in the Biden administration.”

Nile Gardiner of the Heritage Foundation told The Telegraph there was a clear public interest in the release of  Prince Harry’s immigration records.

“The American people have a right to know whether he was honest and truthful in his application.

“It is vital that the rule of law be enforced in all immigration cases. No one should be above the law, even a celebrity member of the Royal family.

“Everyone should be held to account and that includes Prince Harry.”

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