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Charles' charities accused of lobbying MPs

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Charities working on behalf of Prince Charles have lobbied government ministers and senior officials to change policies on politically sensitive topics including VAT and regional development spending, a national newspaper has alleged

According to letters and emails obtained by the Guardian newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act, Business in the Community, a charity of which the Prince has been president for 25 years, urged the business secretary Vince Cable to rethink a decision to scrap the Northwest Regional Development Agency.

In another case, the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment urged housing minister, Grant Shapps, to incorporate greater community engagement in planning and promoted its own planning work around the country as a key topic in the National Planning Policy Framework.

In all, 17 emails and letters between five of the prince’s charities and ministers and officials in four government departments were released by the government under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Prince has repeatedly come under fire for his attempts to influence public policy. It emerged in June that he has held meetings with 10 government ministers, including talks at Clarence House with the chancellor George Osborne, education secretary Michael Gove, the international development secretary Andrew Mitchell, and the environment secretary, Caroline Spelman.

Their discussions remain secret because of exemptions in Freedom of Information laws concerning communication between members of the royal family and public bodies. The same exemptions do not apply to the charities.

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