U.K. judges: Gov't must hand over Charles' lobbying letters

Sep 18, 2012, 10:02 AM EDT

LONDON (AP) — British judges say the government must hand over confidential letters to ministers from Prince Charles, a decision that could shed light on the heir to the throne's attempts to lobby politicians.

Three judges on a freedom of information tribunal ruled Tuesday that it is in the public interest "for there to be transparency as to how and when Prince Charles seeks to influence government."

The ruling comes in response to requests by The Guardian newspaper, which has been asking for years for the letters to be released.

Several government departments had refused to release them, arguing it might breach unwritten constitutional rules and discourage the prince from speaking frankly.

Charles has strong views on issues including the environment and architecture, and has been accused of meddling in political decisions.