Prince Charles’s secret letters slam retailers

By Michael Stones contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food supply chain

Prince Charles’s letters attack retailers
Prince Charles slammed supermarkets’ dominance of the food chain in private correspondence with former Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005, according to his controversial letters published for the first time yesterday (May 13).

One letter to Blair, dated February 2005, complained that supermarkets “appear to be in contravention of the existing statutory code of supermarket practice”.

The letter went on to spell out the king-in-waiting’s view of how that dominance threatened food suppliers. “There is no doubt the dominant position of the retailers is the single biggest issue affecting farmers and the food supply chain and if it’s not dealt with, all the other work that’s been going on risks becoming entirely useless.”

‘Less than pleased’

The Prince added: “I know that Margaret Beckett​ [former boss of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)] recently made clear that the government had been less than pleased with what had been happening.”

The letter went on to suggest a possible independent arbitrator who could ensure retailers treated their suppliers fairly. But that name had been redacted from the correspondence.

Commenting on the correspondence, Beckett said she and her officials were untroubled by the correspondence with her then boss Blair. “The thing is, for quite a lot of these issues – certainly as far as I was concerned in DEFRA – we were pretty much on the same page actually,”​ she told BBC Radio 4’s PM Reports​ programme yesterday.

‘Don’t recall thinking it was a problem’

“We shared the concern that he expressed about what was happening in the market. And indeed, as the letters indicate, we were looking at what could be done. I think we went in much the same direction. I don’t recall thinking it was a problem that he was in communication.”

In other correspondence – published under a Freedom of Information request, after a long campaign waged by The Guardian​ – the Prince also complained to the prime minister about red tape afflicting farmers and the case for badger cull to prevent the spread of bovine TB.

Also in February 2005, the Prince urged Blair to “look again at introducing a proper cull of bagders where it is necessary. I, for one, cannot understand how the badger lobby seem to mind not at all about the slaughter of thousands of expensive cattle and yet object to the managed cull of an overpopulation of badgers”.

Prince Charles’s officials said yesterday that he was entirely within his rights to make the comments in private correspondence with the prime minister and had done nothing wrong.

The British Retail Consortium declined to comment on the letters.

Dear Prime Minister Tony Blair,

Regarding retailers​: Supermarkets “appear to be in contravention of the existing statutory code of supermarket practice. There is no doubt the dominant position of the retailers is the single biggest issue affecting farmers and the food supply chain and if it’s not dealt with, all the other work that’s been going on risks becoming entirely useless. I know that Margaret Beckett recently made clear that the government had been less than pleased with what had been happening.”

Regarding red tape:​ “I have raised with you on a number of occasions the importance of reducing the administrative bureaucratic burden on farmers.”

Regarding culling badgers​, please “look again at introducing a proper cull of badgers where it is necessary. I, for one, cannot understand how the badger lobby seem to mind not at all about the slaughter of thousands of expensive cattle and yet object to the managed cull of an overpopulation of badgers. To me, this is intellectual dishonesty”.

  • Prince Charles

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3 comments

Sir has it about right

Posted by David John,

Tom Morris is talking through his fundament. Prince Charles has extensive rural experience as land owner, food supplier to mention only two parts to his world experience. Sure he's a bit keen on a few issues but I support his right to talk up matters that are of concern in his and our world. No point being the heir to the throne and not getting some Government folks to notice your viewpoint.

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Six Years Too Early!

Posted by David Stannard,

Starting about 2012, exactly the same comments have been made in many countries.
Insteaf od bulgeoning Prince Charles perhaps we should acknowledge his concers for ordinary folk?

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Out of touch

Posted by Tom Morris,

This guy really is an utter t***. A combination of ignorance, ill conceived advice and remoteness leads him to thinking he's an expert on everything. Needs shutting up as a matter of urgency.

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