In the accountability of everything related to the security of the Royal House, there are two institutions that constantly collide: the Government, which refuses to give any details about the devices that protect the royal family; and the Transparency Council, which on many occasions has ruined the arguments used by the Executive to keep this information hidden. However, the body that ensures compliance with the transparency law has had little success in its attempt to shed light on an issue buried in opacity: the personnel that the Ministry of the Interior allocates to the Head of State and the cost that supposes for the public coffers.
The Royal House makes another transparency drill that leaves out donations in kind to the emeritus
The Government accumulates resolutions of the Council of Transparency and Good Government to detail issues such as the number of agents available to the Casa del Rey, the budget spent on that item or the staff that accompanies the king emeritus and the cost in diets that it entails, according to several resolutions analyzed by this writing. All these data remain secret, despite the fact that each movement of the king has an important display behind it.
The Ministry of the Interior has ignored a resolution of the institution that oversees access to public information after a request from elDiario.es about the number of troops of the State Security Forces and Bodies who perform their functions in the Royal House. The Transparency Council saw fit for the department headed by Fernando Grande-Marlaska to offer this data, arguing, among other things, that it does not pose a risk to public safety, as he defended Interior: "Not asking for any details regarding the structure, organization, management or operation of the troops, but the mere global number, has not been accredited nor is it possible to discern to what extent their public knowledge can reveal "strengths and weaknesses", as it is argued, that they compromise the effectiveness of the security of the members of the Royal House”.
Despite that resolution dismantles the arguments that the ministry had put forward to deny the request, the Interior reaffirmed them, arguing that the law of official secrets says that information regarding "the staff and media and equipment templates of the units" is "reserved" . That is why he considered that the transparency law protects him to hide the number of agents assigned to Zarzuela and refused to send it.
But not only did it ignore the Transparency Council in that case, but in a previous one the body had already dismantled the argument that it is information considered reserved under the premise that, if so, there should be "a prior declaration of secrecy" , which in any case, he pointed out, had not been contributed to the procedure. “In the absence of this essential requirement, it must be analyzed whether giving the requested information threatens the security and defense of the State, the investigation of crimes and the privacy of people,” the Council continued in its resolution, which also rejected that offering the budget earmarked for the protection of the Royal House since 2000, as the petitioner demanded, meant revealing the size of a specific device, which was another of the reasons given by the Interior for rejecting the request, considering that it could pose a "danger" .
“Concluding that giving a budget on security reflects the security dimension of the members of the Royal House and, consequently, could harm its effectiveness, does not correspond to the nature of the information (...) nor to the broad scope that The right of access to public information must be given and, consequently, the restrictive and duly justified interpretation that must be made regarding its limits,” says the Transparency Council, which bases its argument on a Supreme Court ruling. .
Another of the Interior allegations that Transparency debunks in several of the resolutions analyzed is that providing information about the troops puts the protection of personal data at risk: "Personal data contained in Administration documents or information that , eventually, could reveal information of a personal nature, but rather budgetary data of an economic nature that have no impact on the personal sphere of those in charge of carrying out security actions”.
Limits also of Presidency
But not only Interior tries to limit the information on this type of expenses. Also the General Secretariat of the Presidency, which is the one who is responsible for providing the information on the Head of State that is requested under the 2013 law. In a resolution issued in December 2020, the agency obliged the department then piloted by Félix Bolaños to send the budget assigned for the trips of the royal family since the year 2000 as well as the one dedicated to the protection of its members. The Presidency had used the same explanations to deny the information: that it is a reserved matter and that it can "compromise both the security of the persons subject to protection and that of the agents in charge of it."
The same goes for the security of the king emeritus. The Ministry of the Interior refused to specify the number of escorts accompanying Juan Carlos I during his stay in Abu Dhabi. elDiario.es later revealed that has three camera assistants whose salaries and allowances are paid by National Heritage, but the security personnel at his service are unknown. In addition to hiding behind the reserved nature of the police devices, he traced the pretexts of the other cases in response to a request from this editorial: "It would imply knowing the security device of the king emeritus, thus revealing the strengths or vulnerabilities derived of said information, which would affect the integrity of said person and of those in charge of their protection.”
The Transparency Council partially upheld the appeal of an individual who asked the Interior for the expense of the escort of Juan Carlos de Borbón since his abdication, which part corresponds to allowances and the number of trips made by the former head of state. The Office of Coordination and Studies of the Secretary of State for Security insisted on the "danger" that making this information public could entail for the person in question and "his protection equipment" and added: "It is not possible to dissociate the specific budget items destined to the different areas in which said Security Forces and Corps carry out their duties and it is not feasible, in addition to being impracticable”.
Once again, the Transparency Council disdained the explanations of that department and, specifically, charged against the argument that costs cannot be differentiated. "Since it is an expense that has to be allocated to a specific item and be subject to the corresponding accounting controls, it could be easily identifiable without the need for specific treatment or that it exceeds the capacities of the agency," it stated in the resolution in the one that urged the department of Marlaska to give the data on the expense involved in the escort of the former head of state and specify which part responds to allowances. What it left out was the number of trips abroad, understanding that it required a "prior re-elaboration action" (to make the list) that falls outside the obligations that the transparency law imposes on administrations.
Despite favorable resolutions in the battle for transparency in the accounts of the Head of State, the institutions turn a deaf ear to the Transparency Council, which does not have the capacity to force compliance with its resolutions. It is a loophole in the rule promoted by the Government of Mariano Rajoy, which leaves it up to the information seekers to continue the fight in court, with the cost that this entails.
Recently, the Transparency Council has also urged the Interior to reveal how much each member of the Government spends on escorts on their private trips. The ministry denied a citizen's request on the grounds that it is information that is "reserved" and that its "disclosure to unauthorized persons" can "generate serious risks or harm to the security and defense of the State, to the security of the persons object of protection and for the agents in charge of it”. Europe Press reports. Transparency considers that this reserved nature does not cover in a generic way "all the protection plans of the Security Forces and Bodies." For that body, it is not “objectively possible to appreciate that access to the requested documentation and data could put the safety of the persons subject to protection or that of the agents in charge of it at risk”. "Nor is it warned that public knowledge of the cost of escort services provided for private trips by ministers from January 2020 to the present, broken down by services provided and member of the Government affected, could endanger the safety of the people affected", terminate that resolution.
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