Charles is seen for first time since ‘cash for Knighthood’ storm: Prince of Wales joins Camilla on royal engagement in Glasgow after closest aide was forced to resign for ‘offering Saudi billionaire British citizenship’
- The Prince of Wales donned a colourful face mask as he joined Camilla at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow
- It marked the heir to throne’s first Royal engagement since the claims by a former fixer called William Bortrick
- He claimed Charles was ‘100%’ behind helping Saudi Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz get UK citizenship
- The allegation comes as his ex-valet Michael Fawcett was forced to step down as chief of Prince’s Foundation
- A spokesman on behalf of Prince of Wales said that he has ‘no knowledge’ of the cash for honours allegations
Prince Charles has been spotted for the first time since cash for honours allegations surrounding his charities emerged.
The Prince of Wales donned a colourful face mask as he joined the Duchess of Cornwall at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow to celebrate its 120th anniversary today.
It marked the heir to the throne’s first Royal engagement since the claims by a former fixer who said the Royal was ‘100 per cent’ behind an offer to help Saudi tycoon Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz get UK citizenship.
The allegation by William Bortrick – a paid advisor to Dr bin Mahfouz, who is a major donor to Charles’s charities – comes as the Prince’s former valet Michael Fawcett was forced to step down as chief of the Prince’s Foundation.
A string of claims about 58-year-old Mr Fawcett’s conduct while running the charity included the allegation he had offered to ‘support’ Dr bin Mahfouz in his efforts to secure both a knighthood and British citizenship.
And new allegations about Charles’s apparent involvement emerged in a draft letter from Mr Bortrick to Dr bin Mahfouz, who donated more than £1.5million to Charles’s charities.
The letter by Burke’s Peerage publisher Mr Bortrick, which was drafted in May 2014 and revealed by The Times on Monday, said Dr bin Mahfouz’s application for citizenship would ‘now take the highest priority’.
It added: ‘His Royal Highness supports these applications 100 per cent, as there is no greater example of contribution [than] yours, therefore this should be rewarded and recognised accordingly.’
A spokesman for the Prince said: ‘The Prince of Wales has no knowledge of the alleged offer of honours or British citizenship on the basis of donation to his charities and fully supports the investigation now under way by The Prince’s Foundation.’
Prince Charles has been spotted for the first time since cash for honours allegations surrounding his charities emerged
The Prince of Wales donned a colourful face mask as he joined the Duchess of Cornwall at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow to celebrate its 120th anniversary today
It marked the heir to the throne’s first Royal engagement since the claims by a former fixer who said the Royal was ‘100 per cent’ behind an offer to help Saudi tycoon Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz get UK citizenship
Prince Charles awards a CBE to Saudi tycoon Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz at Buckingham Palace in November 2016
Burke’s Peerage publisher William Bortrick, a paid advisor to Dr bin Mahfouz, who is a major donor to Charles’s charities
Mr Bortrick also suggested in the draft letter that Dr bin Mahfouz would get the opportunity to meet the Queen ‘in the next few months’, and receive the ‘special honours’ of a knighthood before full House of Lords membership.
However, the newspaper reported that there was no evidence of whether the letter was sent or agreed by Charles’s advisers – and MailOnline has contacted a Clarence House spokesman for comment this morning.
Mr Fawcett was pictured outside his home in London this morning walking his dog with his wife Debbie Burke.
Prince’s Foundation beefs up investigation into ‘cash for honours’ claims
When allegations surfaced a week ago about how wealthy donors could pay £100,000 to secure a dinner with Prince Charles and a stay at Dumfries House, an internal investigation was launched.
The Prince’s Foundation beefed up the probe yesterday after more serious ‘cash for honours’ claims, this time about Michael Fawcett, surfaced.
The charity has arranged for a senior forensic accountant from a ‘big four’ firm for carry out and independent review.
But critics believe the inquiry should be handled by an fully independent commission or a police force.
It is understood that the Scottish Charity Regulator has been informed, because the allegations relate to north of the border. But it is unclear if any action is being taken by the body.
Former Minister Norman Baker said he would be writing to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and asking her to investigate a potential breach of the 1925 Honours Act.
Only once person has never been convicted under this act – and this was back in 1933.
It follows reports that a letter on headed notepaper made clear that Mr Fawcett was prepared to assist in bumping up the tycoon’s honorary CBE to a knighthood.
Dr bin Mahfouz has been one of the most prolific donors to the prince’s charities, giving more than £1.5million to help fund renovations of residences supported by Charles.
The prince is understood to have ‘known nothing’ of either Mr Fawcett’s letter or of emails from fixers about the prospect of an honour.
Indeed, the Mail understands that he was ‘so surprised’ by the claims that he ‘couldn’t believe them’ at first.
However, the revelations in The Mail on Sunday and The Sunday Times represented the third time the future king has found himself facing a scandal involving Mr Fawcett – who has twice before been forced to resign from royal service.
Mr Fawcett – at his own suggestion – has agreed to temporarily step down from his £95,000-a-year role with the Foundation while an investigation is carried out. The future king, crucially, is said to be ‘supportive’ of this.
But last night he faced pressure to finally cut ties with his former valet if allegations of wrongdoing are found to be proven, with one source suggesting there should be a ‘timely parting of ways’.
The Prince’s Foundation is also facing the threat of a possible police inquiry.
Former minister Norman Baker, a respected author on royal finances, said the sale of honours was an offence and he would be writing to Met Commissioner Cressida Dick to ask her to investigate.
He said: ‘The letter from Michael Fawcett seems to show there is a prima facie link being made between the donor getting an honour for money coming into Prince Charles’s charity, which is an offence.’
Mr Baker questioned whether an internal inquiry by the charity would be conducted with significant rigour, given Mr Fawcett’s elevated position.
Mr Fawcett has twice bounced back from scandals – once over bullying claims and again over the alleged sale of royal gifts – because of the prince’s reliance on him.
Charles, who prides loyalty and discretion above anything, once said he could ‘manage without just about anyone, except for Michael’.
Prince Charles is pictured with his former valet Michael Fawcett, 58, at the Castle of Mey in Caithness, Scotland, in May 2019
Prince Charles and Camilla are pictured last Tuesday on a visit to the Ballater Community and Heritage Hub in Aberdeenshire
One source said: ‘What we have seen so far is the tip of the iceberg. Just because these are charities championed by the Prince of Wales doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be subject to the same checks, balances and scrutiny as any other charity.’
Last week the Prince’s Foundation launched an investigation following other ‘cash for access’ claims. Society fixer Michael Wynne-Parker was accused of offering a dinner with Charles and an overnight stay at Dumfries House for £100,000.
Mr Fawcett has agreed to ‘temporarily’ step down from his £95,000-a-year role with the Foundation. He is pictured outside his home in London yesterday
Mr Wynne-Parker, an adviser to Dr bin Mahfouz, allegedly wrote an email saying fixers would pocket up to 25 per cent of the fees.
But the latest disclosures pose far more serious questions about the conduct of those close to the prince.
They will also prompt renewed scrutiny of the honours system and whether it is open to monetary influence.
Last night the Prince’s Foundation said it had beefed up its investigation by arranging for a senior forensic accountant from a ‘big four’ firm to carry out an independent review.
The bombshell letter was allegedly written by Mr Fawcett on August 18, 2017, to Dr bin Mahfouz’s aide Busief Lamlum.
It says: ‘In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency… I am happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to support and contribute to the application for Citizenship.
‘I can further confirm that we are willing to make [an] application to increase His Excellency’s honour from Honorary CBE to that of KBE in accordance with Her Majesty’s Honours Committee.’
The letter makes no effort to disguise that support for any knighthood and citizenship application depends on Dr bin Mahfouz’s financial support.
Writing in his then capacity as chief executive of the Dumfries House Trust, Mr Fawcett added: ‘I hope that this confirmation is sufficient in allowing us to go forward.’
A year later, Mr Fawcett was put in charge of Charles’s entire charitable empire as chief executive of the Foundation.
One of his main tasks was securing donations for Dumfries House, which Charles saved for the nation in 2007 – in part through a £20million loan from his then charitable trust.
Last night Clarence House said it was taking the matter ‘very seriously’. Mr Fawcett declined to comment.
A spokesman for Dr bin Mahfouz said he had ‘not had personal or direct communication to either request, influence or make any arrangements regarding citizenship or knighthood with Mr Fawcett, or anyone connected to HRH The Prince of Wales or the Prince’s Foundation’.
Society fixer, Burke’s Peerage publisher and Saudi tycoon: Three key characters in the Charles scandal
Dr Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz
Dr Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, pictured meeting Prince Charles, is one of Britain’s most generous benefactors
Dr Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz is one of Britain’s most generous benefactors who holds a string of titles in the UK. The millionaire Saudi businessman’s family made their fortune in the Middle East through hotels, property and manufacturing.
In 2012 Dr Mahfouz, 51, set up the Mahfouz Foundation, a charity that aims to ‘advance the education of the public in the United Kingdom in the culture, history, language, literature and institutions of the Middle East’.
Three years later Dr Mahfouz donated £370,000 to the Queen Elizabeth Castle of Mey Trust, which Prince Charles is president of, to help renovate the estate despite the Saudi never having visited it.
He was honoured with the Mahfouz Wood, to the east of the 15th Century castle, and six benches were installed with plaques bearing the names of Dr Mahfouz, his father and four brothers will be placed around the castle’s gardens.
He has also donated a significant sum to Dumfries House, the 18th Century Palladian mansion in Ayrshire, which the Prince’s Foundation had painstakingly being working to restore.
Dr Mahfouz holds the title of Lord and Baron of Abernethy as well as his honorary CBE awarded in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace in 2016.
He has been made a life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts as well as being awarded Knight Grand Cross in the Companionate of Merit of the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem.
He has been elected a fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford and has a bust in his honour at Wolfson College, Cambridge.
Michael Wynne-Parker has rubbed shoulders with Prime Ministers and world leaders during a colourful life
Michael Wynne-Parker is known as a society fixer who has rubbed shoulders with Prime Ministers and world leaders during a colourful life.
Mr Wynne-Parker, 75, stood unsuccessfully as a Tory candidate in Norfolk in August 1974 before becoming a regular at the Monday Club, the Right-wing Westminster pressure group.
He quickly proved himself a masterful networker introduced Margaret Thatcher to Muammar Gadaffi’s son and meeting brewery tycoon Jonathan Guinness – now Lord Moyne.
Mr Wynne-Parker worked with Lord Moyne on his controversial consultancy firm Introcom which was investigated by the fraud squad after complaints from creditors over their failed airline, Tajik Air, in 1994.
Mr Wynne-Parker said at the time that Introcom had no financial involvement, but had only provided consultancy services.
Mr Wynne-Parker and Lord Moyne then launched Access To Justice which rented out office suites and gave free legal advice to those seeking to overturn their convictions because of alleged miscarriages of justice.
It was claimed that the firm misrepresented itself as a charity and that a convicted fraudster was involved in its operations. Margaret Beckett, then the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, obtained a court order to shut down the company in the public interest.
Both Mr Wynne-Parker and Lord Moyne were banned from being company directors for five years in 2000 because of their roles in Access To Justice.
Another of his firms, Wynne-Parker Financial Management, had also been shut down by financial watchdogs ten years earlier. He was found guilty on 16 counts of misconduct and fined £10,000 with a judge saying that it seemed the businessman had ‘the clear modus operandi of a crook’.
William Bortrick i is chairman of aristocratic guide Burke’s Peerage
William Bortrick is a family figure in London’s private clubs and is usually seen hovering in background at functions attended by society fixer Michael Wynne-Parker.
He is chairman of the once-revered aristocratic guide, Burke’s Peerage, and is also a member of the founding board of the Imperial Orthodox Palestine Society, which is chaired by Mr Wynne-Parker.
The organisation has faced disputed allegations that it is a front for Russian influence – but its bosses insist it is a religious and cultural organisation.
Mr Bortrick, 48, is also an adviser to the Commonwealth Sambo Association, which champions a Russian martial art and combat sport which may feature in the 2028 Olympics and is strongly backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The fighting techniques were developed by the Soviet Red Army in the early 1920s to improve unarmed combat. Mr Wynne-Parker is presisent of the association and regularly presides over combat events.
Burke’s Peerage was established by the genealogist John Burke in 1826, expanding over the years into various editions. The firm was chaired from 1974 to 1983 by the entrepreneur Jeremy Norman, who founded the gay nightclub Heaven and established the fitness chain Soho Gyms.
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