Prince Charles aide steps down amid probe into claims he helped Saudi tycoon donor secure CBE


Prince Charles’s closest aide has stepped down from his position after allegations he helped to secure a CBE for a Saudi tycoon who donated £1.5m to royal charities.

Michael Fawcett, the Prince of Wales’s former valet, briefly stepped apart as chief government of The Prince’s Foundation after Sunday newspapers claimed he was concerned in a cash-for-favours scandal with Saudi businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who was reportedly trying to secure British citizenship by way of an investor visa.

The newspapers reported Mr Mahfouz had been suggested that securing honorary roles and awards would assist his possibilities of being accepted for the visa.

The Sunday Times reported he donated greater than £1.5m to restoration initiatives that have been of specific curiosity to Charles and The Prince’s Foundation, together with Dumfries House and the Castle of Mey in Scotland, the place there’s a forest named after him – the Mahfouz Wood. Mr Mahfouz is publicly acknowledged as a patron of the Prince’s Foundation.

Mr Mahfouz was awarded an honorary CBE by Charles in a personal ceremony at Buckingham Palace in November 2016. The ceremony was not introduced within the Court Curricular, the official listing of royal engagements, The Sunday Times reported, however official paperwork present that the Queen awarded Mr Mahfouz his CBE “for services to charities in the UK”.

The Mail on Sunday reported that Mr Fawcett wrote in a letter that the royal charity could be “happy and willing” to make use of its affect to help Mr Mahfouz to assist secure an honorary knighthood and assist a citizenship bid for the businessman, in response to and in anticipation of ongoing assist of the charity.

The letter, reportedly written by Mr Fawcett on 18 August 2017 to Busief Lamlum, an aide of Mr Mahfouz, mentioned: “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 honor from Honorary CBE to that of KBE in accordance with Her Majesty’s Honours Committee.

“Both of these applications will be made in response to the most recent and anticipated support [of] The Trust, and in connection with his ongoing commitment generally within the United Kingdom.”

A spokesperson for Mr Mahfouz instructed the Mail on Sunday he had ceased his utility for citizenship and insisted the Saudi tycoon had not anticipated any reward for his charitable donations and denied any wrongdoing.

Douglas Connell, the chair of The Prince’s Foundation confirmed on Saturday that Mr Fawcett had briefly stepped down.

He mentioned: “Earlier today, Michael Fawcett offered to step down temporarily from active duties as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation while the trustees’ investigation is ongoing.

“The Prince’s Foundation has accepted this offer. Michael fully supports the ongoing investigation and has confirmed that he will assist the investigation in every way,” he added.

Emily Cherrington, the muse’s chief working officer is known to be taking on Mr Fawcett’s position within the interim.

A spokesperson for The Prince’s Foundation mentioned: “The Prince’s Foundation takes very seriously the allegations that have recently been brought to its attention and the matter is currently under investigation.

“We are incredibly proud of The Prince’s Foundation’s charitable work and the positive impact it has had on our beneficiaries throughout the UK and across the world.

“Our education and training programmes, in particular, benefit more than 15,000 people every year and provide our students with the skills and confidence needed to gain employment or start their own businesses.”

Buckingham Palace couldn’t be reached for remark.

Mr Fawcett started his royal service in 1981 as a footman to the Queen, rising by way of the ranks to sergeant footman after which Charles’s assistant valet, setting out his bespoke fits and shirts each morning at Kensington Palace.

He was accused of promoting undesirable royal items and pocketing a share of the proceeds when he was Charles’s private assistant, however was cleared by an inside inquiry of any monetary misconduct.

The inquiry, headed by Charles’s then non-public secretary Sir Michael Peat, discovered Mr Fawcett did “infringe internal rules relating to gifts from suppliers” however couldn’t be severely criticised as a result of the foundations weren’t enforced and he made no secret of such items.

But the report painted an image of Mr Fawcett as an alleged bully who accepted invaluable items from outsiders.

The royal aide resigned following the report’s publication, however continued to have the prince’s patronage as a contract fixer and occasion planner, and picked up an undisclosed money severance bundle in addition to an settlement to work because the Prince’s occasions supervisor.

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