Media & PR

How to hide something from journalists: say it in Parliament

Today The Guardian has a big page one splash on revelations that the Prince of Wales gets formally consulted (and given the chance to veto) various pieces of legislation.

Well, I say revelations and the story is written that way – complete with references to correspondence seen by The Guardian and a Freedom of Information request.

Except … take a look at Hansard. Each time the Prince of Wales has been consulted, it’s been reported in public to Parliament in a debate which then has its full transcript published online and free for anyone to read. (The process of consultation is also documented in public on the Cabinet Office website.)

Nor are these Parliamentary references hard to find. I found them myself by simply searching in the first place for “Prince of Wales” and “prerogative”, seeing the formal phrase used each time and then searching just for that.

The Guardian‘s story is not so much a case of a clever use of Freedom of Information requests to unearth a secret as a case of missing what was there in plain view. (Which is not the only time journalists confuse ‘in public’ with ‘secret’.)

The moral of the story? If you want to hide something, tell Parliament.

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