Robert Verkaik: These royal revelations are merely the tip of the iceberg

There are examples of huge overspends on refurbishments of the occupied palace

Share
Related Topics

How short some memories are. It was less than two years ago that MPs blundered into the expenses scandal by trying to exempt themselves from requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. Their self-destructive actions put them on a collision course with the Information Commissioner and ended in the humbling of Parliament.

Now Labour ministers, aided and abetted by Buckingham Palace, risk a similar debacle by denying the public access to sensitive and embarrassing documents relating to the funding of the Queen's occupied palaces.

Today's disclosure of more than 100 letters, emails and memos is merely the tip of an iceberg concealing secret correspondence between ministers, officials and the Palace. Last year the Information Commissioner, who has seen all the undisclosed material, judged that there was a public interest in releasing it to The Independent.

But the Department for Culture, Media and Sport is determined to fight the case at the Information Tribunal, which rules on disputes over disclosure, until the documents have no publication value.

What has already been released suggests a rather cosy relationship between the DCMS and the Royal Household in accounting for how taxpayers' money is spent on the upkeep of the palaces.

For example, it wasn't until the end of 2005 that Buckingham Palace woke up to the idea that by switching to a wholesale provider of electricity and gas, the Queen could save hundreds of thousands of pounds in energy costs. At a time like the present, when everybody is tightening their belts, it is even more important that we know how our money is being spent.

There are also examples of huge overspends on refurbishments of the occupied palace which government officials appear only too keen to waive through. Palace officials have made much of the Queen's savings in recent years – while at the same time asking for more public money to fund a property maintenance backlog of £32m.

In every other aspect of public life, the price of receiving state subsidies is understood to be complete transparency. So while it is welcome news that the Government has agreed to release some of the documents, we patiently wait for disclosure of the rest so we can fully report the story.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Most powerful woman in British politics

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans  

Yet again, the economy is the battleground on which the election will be fought

Patrick Diamond
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders