New woe for Royals: Met Police launches ‘cash for honours’ investigation into Prince Charles’ charity over claims that close aide Michael Fawcett offered to help Saudi billionaire donor get knighthood and UK citizenship
- Michael Fawcett resigned as foundation’s chief executive after string of claims
- He allegedly promised to help get a knighthood and UK citizenship for donor
- Prince Charles is said to be willing to speak to detectives over the allegations
- Clarence House said Charles had ‘no knowledge’ of cash for honours scandal
Prince Charles‘ former right hand man was today at the centre of a Metropolitan Police ‘cash for honours’ probe into how a Saudi billionaire donor got a knighthood and UK citizenship.
Michael Fawcett, for years a trusted ally of Prince Charles, stepped down in October amid claims he promised to help secure a CBE and British citizenship for Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz – a donor to the Prince’s Foundation.
It was alleged that he paid thousands of pounds to ‘fixers’ with links to the prince who said they could secure him an honour in return for donations.
Now after a Met special advisory team has assessed documents the force has launched an investigation into allegations of offences under the Honours Act.
Clarence House today stressed Charles had ‘no knowledge’ on allegations of offers of honours ‘on the basis of donation to his charities’.
The Prince’s spokespeople have previously said he would ‘of course’ be willing to assist any enquiry from the authorities.
A Met statement said: ‘The decision follows an assessment of a September 2021 letter. This related to media reporting alleging offers of help were made to secure honours and citizenship for a Saudi national.
‘The Special Enquiry Team has conducted the assessment process which has included contacting those believed to hold relevant information.
Dr Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, pictured meeting Prince Charles, is one of Britain’s most generous benefactors
Mr Fawcett (pictured) allegedly helped fix a CBE and British citizenship for billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who donated more than £1.5 million to royal charities
‘Officers liaised with The Prince’s Foundation about the findings of an independent investigation into fundraising practices. The Foundation provided a number of relevant documents.
‘These documents were reviewed alongside existing information. The assessment determined an investigation will commence.
‘There have been no arrests or interviews under caution.’
A probe last year concluded that Mr Fawcett did co-ordinate with ‘fixers’ over honours nominations for Mahfouz, who has donated more than £1.5 million to royal charities.
The Prince of Wales, 73, has insisted he had ‘no knowledge’ of the alleged deal, but he could still prove to be a vital witness, as he held private meetings with Dr Mahfouz at the British embassy in Saudi Arabia, in London and Scotland.
Clarence House has previously said Charles would ‘of course’ be willing to assist Scotland Yard detectives if asked to do so.
Michael Fawcett, for years a trusted ally of Prince Charles (pictured together in 2019) and former chief executive, resigned as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation earlier this month
Dr Mahfouz received his CBE during a private ceremony at Clarence House in 2016.
A probe into fundraising practices was ordered by the Prince’s Foundation and carried out independently by auditing firm Ernst & Young.
Its conclusion found that Mr Fawcett co-ordinated with ‘fixers’ over honours nominations for a Saudi billionaire donor to the foundation.
Mr Fawcett was also involved in directing money from the donor’s foundation to another charity of which Charles was patron, it was revealed.
Last year Dame Sue Bruce, chair of the Prince’s Foundation, described the recent crises surrounding the future king’s charitable organisation as a ‘difficult chapter’, but said ‘lessons will be learned’ to ensure the charity acts with the ‘utmost integrity and probity’.
A letter also emerged, written by Mr Fawcett to Dr Mahfouz in 2017, in which he said the Prince’s Foundation would be ‘happy and willing’ to use its influence to help him.
Mr Fawcett was Charles’s most indispensable aide over the decades, with the prince once saying: ‘I can manage without just about anyone, except for Michael.’
The former royal valet quit twice before, including in 2003 when, as Charles’s personal assistant, he was accused and cleared by an inquiry of selling royal gifts, but was revealed to have accepted valuable gifts from outsiders.