Prince Harry’s US visa under scrutiny in court over drug use which could see him removed from country
Harry’s US visa has come under scrutiny after he referenced taking cocaine, marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms in his memoir Spare
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Lawyers are due in a federal courtroom in Washington DC to demand the US government release the Duke of Sussex’s US visa application form, in a move which could result in him being removed from the country.
The government is to be challenged over its decision not to disclose the reasoning behind admitting the duke into the country, following his admissions of illegal drug use.
Harry referenced taking cocaine, marijuana and psychedelic mushrooms in his controversial memoir Spare prompted, prompting a conservative Washington DC think tank to question why he was allowed into the US in 2020.
The case will examine how Harry answered questions about drug-taking on his US visa application when he applied to move to America in March 2020.
Lawyers for American conservative political research group the Heritage Foundation reference two key questions in the US DS160 visa form. The first question asks: “Have you ever been a drug abuser or addict?”, while the second states: “Have you ever violated, or engaged in a conspiracy to violate, any law relating to controlled substances?”
The Heritage Foundation brought the lawsuit against the Department for Homeland Security (DHS) to establish whether the duke was properly vetted by the US government when his visa was granted.
The think tank is to argue the “widespread and continuous media coverage” has brought the issue into question, claiming it is of “immense public interest”. But the DHS said that release of the documents would not be in the public interest and questioned how “widespread” the media coverage of the issue had been.
Both parties will argue the case in a federal court for the first time on Tuesday (6 June), but it is unclear when the court will make a decision over whether the documents can be released.
In his memoir, Prince Harry said cocaine “didn’t do anything for me”, adding: “Marijuana is different, that actually really did help me.”
The Heritage Foundation’s lawsuit argues that US law “generally renders such a person inadmissible for entry” to the country. Under US law, admission of, or evidence of past drug use, can be grounds for a visa application to be rejected.
Prince Harry’s case is just the most recent example of the visa application process being called into question, as lawyers have pointed out other celebrities have had visas denied for previous drug use.
Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson confessed in a court case in 2013 that she had taken cocaine and marijuana and was prevented from boarding a flight to Los Angeles a year later. She was eventually granted a visa after a long process.
Additionally, musician Pete Doherty, who has a string of drug convictions, was allowed to fly to the US in 2010 and arrived in New York before being sent back to the UK on the next flight.
Harry’s US court case comes at the same time he is giving evidence in the High Court in the UK in his individual case against Mirror Group Newspapers over alleged unlawful information gathering.
The duke is suing Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN) for damages, claiming journalists at its titles, which also include the Sunday Mirror and Sunday People, were linked to methods including phone hacking, so-called “blagging” or gaining information by deception, and use of private investigators for unlawful activities.