Charles’ ex-aide worked with ‘fixers’ over honours, report findson December 2, 2021 at 9:33 pm

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Michael Fawcett discussed nominations for a donor, an inquiry ordered by the Prince’s Foundation finds.

Michael Fawcett

Image source, Getty Images

The chief executive of a Prince of Wales charity co-ordinated with “fixers” over honours for a billionaire Saudi donor, an investigation ordered by the charity has found.

Michael Fawcett resigned from the Prince’s Foundation last month amid claims he helped the donor secure an honorary CBE and British citizenship.

Clarence House previously said Prince Charles had no knowledge of the affair.

He wanted his charity to operate to the “highest standards”, it said.

Dame Sue Bruce, chair of the Prince’s Foundation, said the charity had been through a “difficult chapter” but said lessons would be learned to ensure it acts with the “utmost integrity and probity”.

Mr Fawcett, Prince Charles’ aide for 40 years, stood down from the foundation after the Sunday Times, Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday published allegations that he had offered to help Saudi businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz secure an honorary CBE and British citizenship.

Mr Mahfouz, who denies any wrongdoing, donated large sums to restoration projects of particular interest to Prince Charles, according to the Sunday Times.

He received an honorary CBE in late 2016.

The foundation published a summary of an investigation carried out by auditing firm EY into the allegations, which concluded “there is evidence that communication and co-ordination took place between the CEO at the time and so-called ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014-18”.

But it said there was no evidence that trustees were aware of this.

Former Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who previously called on the Metropolitan Police to launch a criminal investigation into the cash for honours claims, said the foundation’s response was a “diversion”.

He said: “There was never a suggestion the trustees were informed or aware of what happened. The issue is about Michael Fawcett and Prince Charles himself… The questions for Prince Charles have not been answered.”

Clarence House said it was “taking this opportunity to reinforce guidance to these charities, particularly in respect of their relationships with supporters”.

Prince Charles with Michael Fawcett, his valet at the time

Image source, Getty Images

Mr Fawcett was Prince Charles’s closest aide for many years, with the prince once saying: “I can manage without just about anyone, except for Michael.”

He resigned in 2003 after being accused and later cleared of selling royal gifts, but he continued to work as a freelance fixer and events manager for the prince.

Clarence House said it would no longer work with his event planning firm last month.

The findings of the investigation will be released to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator for its examination of dealings at the foundation, which is partly based at Dumfries House in East Ayrshire.

The investigation also concluded that the foundation’s ethics committee process was followed when a £100,000 donation from Russian banker Dmitry Leus, made via the Mahfouz Foundation, was given back.

Newspaper reports that this donation had been made in exchange for a meeting with the Prince of Wales prompted the resignation of the foundation’s former chairman, Douglas Connell, in September.

Mr Fawcett and another unnamed senior employee were subsequently involved in directing a transfer of funds from the Mahfouz Foundation to another charity, the Children and the Arts Foundation (CATA), the investigation concluded.

It said this activity took place without the trustees’ knowledge.

CATA was set up by the Prince of Wales in 2006, but Clarence House said he ceased being its patron in 2019 before this transfer of funds took place.

England’s Charity Commission has launched an inquiry into whether donations meant for the Prince’s Foundation went to CATA instead.

The investigation also found:

  • There was no evidence that the foundation’s employees or trustees were aware of private dinners being sold or arranged in exchange for money
  • There was no evidence of commissions being paid to society fixer Michael Wynne-Parker or Burke’s Peerage editor William Bortrick
  • There was evidence of other commissions being discussed or paid but the foundation said this was “not uncommon” for charities
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