MP defends ‘non-political’ talks with Prince Charles

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CLAIMS that the Prince of Wales has been meddling in Government policy have been strongly refuted by Bexhill and Battle MP Greg Barker.

Mr Barker is the Coalition’s minister for climate change, and he confirmed a Sunday newspaper report that he had been among several Government ministers to have had private talks with the heir to the throne.

Others had included Chancellor George Osborne, Education Secretary Michael Gove, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman, Fisheries Minister Richard Benyon and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

Mr Barker, a Conservative, who shares Prince Charles’s views on the need to tackle global warming, is understood to have met him twice for talks.

He told the Battle Observer: “Our discussions have always been non-political and entirely proper given that he will be the next Head of State.

“In my view we are extremely lucky that Prince Charles takes his role so seriously and applies himself with such dedication.”

He added: “The Prince of Wales is a huge asset to the UK. I have seen at first-hand how well respected he is abroad.”

One of the private meetings Mr Barker had with Prince Charles was at an international conference in Norway when the minister and Prince had one-to-one discussions about global warming.

Sensitivities about Prince Charles’s involvement with political leaders surfaced during Labour prime minister Tony Blair’s tenure at Number 10.

At one stage Mr Blair complained to the Queen about his behaviour amid claims the Prince had tried to influence policy on issues such as reform of the Lords, genetically modified crops and fox-hunting.

But in response to the latest allegations, a Clarence House spokesman said: “In his role as heir, the Prince of Wales has a duty to meet and communicate regularly with Government ministers.”

It was also pointed out that it is not always the Prince who calls for such meetings, but ministers wishing to speak to him.