Prince Harry could be quizzed as a witness in the cash for honours investigation launched by Scotland Yard, it emerged today.
The Duke of Sussex was accused of throwing his father under the bus last year after claiming he raised concerns about a Saudi billionaire donor. Charles’ senior aide Michael Fawcett was forced to resign as head of The Prince’s Foundation over his role in the scandal.
In December Harry said he had ‘severed ties’ with Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz a year before Prince Charles presented the controversial Saudi billionaire with a CBE.
Clarence House has repeatedly said that Charles had ‘no knowledge’ of the ‘cash for access’ allegations, but it did not comment on whether Harry raised concerns with him about Mr Mahfouz.
Now the Metropolitan Police are investigating, their detectives could choose to question him over what his concerns were, and who he told in 2015, according to the Mirror. MailOnline has asked Prince Harry to comment.
Harry said he had ‘concerns’ over the businessman’s ‘motives’. He made the comments after it was revealed that he had held a private meeting with Mr Mahfouz, who has given tens of thousands of pounds to charities associated with the duke.
The Duke of Sussex (left) said he had ‘severed ties’ with Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz (right) a year before Prince Charles presented the controversial Saudi billionaire with a CBE
Harry said he had no involvement in what he described as the ‘CBE scandal’, insisting he had concerns about the Saudi businessman’s ‘motives’
Prince Charles faces being interviewed by police over an alleged ‘cash for honours’ scandal after his aide allegedly offered to help Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz (pictured together) upgrade his honorary CBE to a knighthood in exchange for ‘generous’ donations to Charles’s charitable foundation
The billionaire is embroiled in claims that he showered money on charitable causes close to the Prince of Wales in the hope of obtaining an honour and British citizenship.
Last night, royal sources were quick to insist the Prince of Wales had no knowledge of any alleged deal involving his former aide Michael Fawcett (pictured) – and emphasised he would be willing to speak to detectives and help with their inquiry in ‘whatever way’ he could
Harry is said to have become concerned about Mr Mahfouz in 2014 and wound down their relationship the following year, having met him twice.
But in an extraordinary statement, Harry said just before Christmas that he had no involvement in what he described as the ‘CBE scandal’, insisted he had concerns about the Saudi businessman’s ‘motives’ and claimed he ‘expressed his concerns’ about him.
Charles has been engulfed by criticism owing to his relationship with Mr Mahfouz and the hundreds of thousands of pounds the billionaire donated to the royal’s pet projects via his charitable trust. He could now be interviewed by police.
An independent investigation found Mr Fawcett had colluded with ‘fixers’ representing Mr Mahfouz who were trying to secure an honour in exchange for donations.
Mr Mahfouz is thought to have donated at least £1.5 million to royal charities.
Key moments in the tale of intrigue
April 2013: Fixers for Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz ask for protocol for being awarded an MBE and UK citizenship.
May 2013: Mahfouz introduced to Ashe Windham, chairman of Castle of Mey Trust. He later donates £20,000 to the castle.
October 2013: Mahfouz fixer writes to Charles thanking him for an ‘entertaining and instructive’ private trip to the castle.
February 2014: Fixers receive confirmation of a meeting between Mahfouz and Charles for the following month. They meet at Clarence House.
April 2014: A Mahfouz fixer tells an assistant continued ‘friendship building’ with Charles will ‘lead to further very special personal and individual honours’.
April 2014: Michael Fawcett, Charles’s close aide, writes that the prince supports Mahfouz’s UK citizenship bid ‘100 per cent’.
September 2014: Minutes of a meeting show Fawcett agreeing to supervise Mahfouz’s citizenship application.
February 2015: Charles meets the sheikh at the British embassy in Riyadh.
November 2016: Mahfouz is awarded a CBE by Charles in a private investiture.
August 2017: Fawcett says the Prince’s Foundation would be ‘happy and willing’ to use its influence to help Mahfouz obtain a knighthood and British citizenship.
September 2021: Fawcett quits as chief of The Prince’s Foundation after August 2017 letter revealed by the Mail on Sunday.
December 2: Investigation ordered by the Prince’s Foundation concludes Fawcett did work with ‘fixers’ to secure honours.
February 16 2022: The Met launches an investigation into ‘cash-for-honours’ claims.
The Duke of Sussex said that when he cut ties with Mr Mahfouz in 2015, he ‘expressed his concerns about the donor’. But his statement did not make clear to whom he voiced these qualms.
The following year, Charles presented the Saudi billionaire with an ‘honorary’ CBE in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The Prince of Wales and Mr Mahfouz also held private meetings in Scotland and Saudi Arabia.
Ex-Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who filed a criminal complaint about the matter last summer, said: ‘The fact Harry dropped this guy should have been a red light for Charles, but clearly he ignored that and drove straight through.’
Royal commentator Peter Hunt added at the time: ‘Prince Charles presented Mr Mahfouz with his CBE in 2016. Did Prince Harry tell him about his concerns in 2015? Just one of the many questions the Metropolitan Police could ask father and son if they choose to investigate.’
Harry first met Mr Mahfouz in 2013 at a pub in Chelsea, west London, owned by Mark Dyer, a former royal equerry, The Sunday Times revealed yesterday.
They discussed the duke’s charity Sentebale, set up in 2006 to help people in Lesotho and Botswana affected by Aids, following his gap year in Africa.
The newspaper reported the pair met again at Clarence House the following year after Charles had also met Mr Mahfouz, where Harry allegedly joked: ‘Has father beaten me to it and got the money?’
In February 2013, Mr Mahfouz donated £50,000 to Sentebale. Later that year he gave £10,000 to Walking With The Wounded, another charity of which Harry was patron.
A spokesman for the duke said: ‘The duke had one planned meeting with this donor eight years ago, did not introduce him to any members of the Royal Family, and expressed his concerns about the donor.’
The Prince’s Foundation is being investigated by the Scottish charities regulator over claims it accepted a six-figure sum from a wealthy Russian donor which was later rejected by its ethics committee. An independent investigation into the ‘cash for access’ allegations commissioned by the foundation last week found ‘evidence of communication and co-ordination’ between Mr Fawcett and ‘fixers regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014-18’.
Harry’s relationship with his father soured following the tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey. The duke said his father had cut him off financially when he and Meghan announced plans to move to America and there was ‘a lot of hurt’.
Now questions over Queen’s bailout for Andrew reach PARLIAMENT: MPs will demand to know if public money was used to fund Duke’s £12m settlement with Virginia Giuffre
A Labour MP has said he intends to seek assurances in Parliament that public money will not be used to pay for the Duke of York’s settlement with Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
Andy McDonald said he would raise the issue when MPs return to Westminster next week following their half-term break.
‘This is a person of very high profile involved in a case where his position of authority and privilege has been allegedly abused and it is an enormous sum of money,’ he told BBC Newsnight.
‘We don’t know the precise figure but there is a risk that this will be at the public’s expense so we need to have that resolved. We need to know exactly where this money is coming from.
‘I am going to take the opportunity to raise this issue in Parliament because the issue isn’t going to go away until people have that information and receive assurances that public money is not going to be used to in any way contribute to the settlement.’
MailOnline understands that Mr McDonald will likely raise it with a minister at Cabinet Office questions in the Commons.
It came amid claims that the Queen personally made a £2million payment to Virginia Roberts’ charity as part of Prince Andrew’s £12m settlement, according to reports – as calls grow for a full disclosure about where the money to pay off his accuser has been found.
But it is thought they had patched things up in recent months, having last spoken in person at Prince Philip’s funeral in April. Sentebale said: ‘It is entirely normal and legitimate for patrons to meet potential donors, on whose support we depend. This includes the two donations received in 2013-14 from the Mahfouz Foundation – donations that we would not have accepted if we believed there was anything improper behind them.’
Prince Charles’ friend and biographer Jonathan Dimbleby today insisted that it is ‘extraordinarily unlikely’ the royal knew about the alleged ‘cash for honours’ scandal, comparing it to ‘smears’ that Sir Keir Starmer personally failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile.
Mr Dimbleby, whose friendship with Charles goes back decades, has insisted the Prince of Wales would have had no idea one of his charities may have been helping a Saudi billionaire get a knighthood and British citizenship.
And in an extraordinary interview he said it was ‘bizarre’ to compare the scandal to Prince Andrew’s decision to pay off Virginia Roberts Giuffre, in an interview with the Today programme branded a ‘disgrace’ by some listeners.
The police probe follows the revelation that Charles’ once closest aide Michael Fawcett allegedly offered to help Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz upgrade his honorary CBE to a knighthood – and support his application for British citizenship – in exchange for ‘generous’ donations to Charles’ charitable foundation.
Mr Dimbleby, a friend and confident to Charles, defended him today – hours after it emerged the Queen’s eldest son faces being interviewed by police. He also dismissed claims by Ex-Liberal Democrat minister Norman Baker, who filed a criminal complaint about the matter last year, that he found it ‘difficult to understand’ how Charles could have been completely ignorant of the affair.
He said: ‘That’s a very colourful thing to say. Inconceivable suggests there is no possibility other than that he knew. I think it’s extraordinarily unlikely that he knew. I think if he had know he would have immediately taken action on it. He believes in the honours system. Many thousands of people have been given investitures by him on behalf of a system that he understands and knows well. If there had been some scam, some breaking of the law, you honestly think that he would have been party to that? It beggars belief’.
The journalist then went on to draw parallels with the Prime Minister’s false claim that he personally failed to prosecute paedophile Jimmy Savile.
He said of Keir Starmer: ‘People were rightly outraged when he was smeared for allegedly not investigating Jimmy Saville, now he was dpp [Director of Public Prosecutions]. He was the chief executive of a large organisation. The Prince of Wales is not in that position. He’s someone outside of that organisation who deeply believes and cares in its work – but is not party to its day-to-day operation’. He added: ‘It seems bizarre that we should be giving it such attention. The idea that this is an example of an annus horribilus because its linked to his brother’s case, seems frankly bizarre’.
Prince Charles’ friend and biographer Jonathan Dimbleby (pictured together in 1994) dismissed any links between the Prince of Wales and the cash for honours scandal
The broadcaster compared it to claims Keir Starmer personally failed to prosecute Jimmy Savile while DPP
The Metropolitan Police have launched an investigation into an alleged cash-for-honours scandal after the Prince of Wales and his former close aide Michael Fawcett were reported to police over the claims
Mr Dimbleby’s appearance on the Today programme was met with incredulity by some listeners.
One said: ‘Crikey, I am a huge royalist but honestly Jonathan Dimbleby’s defence of Clarence House is simply over the top’. Another wrote: ‘Jonathan Dimbleby’s eulogy on the Prince of Wales on the Today programme just now nothing short of a disgrace, calling any investigation into his affairs frankly bizarre’.
One Twitter user said: ‘Jonathan Dimbleby going full throttle for a knighthood there’.
The bombshell of Charles potentially facing a police interview came less than 24 hours after the abject humiliation of Prince Andrew having to pay to resolve a sexual abuse lawsuit.
Last night, royal sources were quick to insist the Prince of Wales had no knowledge of any alleged deal – and emphasised he would be willing to speak to detectives and help with their inquiry in ‘whatever way’ he could.
But the dramatic development threatens to drag Charles into a damaging saga in the lead- up to the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations later this year.
The prince – who presented Mr Mahfouz with his honorary CBE title in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace and held private meetings with the billionaire at a string of British embassies – is likely to be asked by police what he knew of the claims against Mr Fawcett.
News of the probe came only a day after it emerged that Prince Andrew had agreed to pay as much as £12 million to settle a sexual abuse lawsuit brought by Virginia Roberts.
Royal sources last night told of ‘genuine shock’ in Buckingham Palace that the cash-for-honours probe had come ‘on top of the Andrew fall-out’, with one predicting: ‘I can only see this getting worse.’
The developments came as the Queen made her first public appearance since last week’s Covid scare – where she appeared to remark on her own frailty.
Welcoming the incoming Defence Services Secretary to Windsor Castle, the 95-year-old monarch – standing with a walking stick – pointed to her foot and said: ‘As you can see, I can’t move.’
The bombshell for the royals comes less than 24 hours after the abject humiliation of Prince Andrew having to pay to resolve a sexual abuse lawsuit levied by Virginia Giuffre (pictured together)
The Queen at an audience at Windsor Castle yesterday where she met the incoming and outgoing Defence Service Secretaries
Insiders were quick to stress there had been, as yet, no formal request by the police to Charles for assistance in the cash-for-honours case, but suggested he would be willing to help with the investigation – including submitting to a formal interview.
A source added: ‘He would be happy to help in whatever way.’
Charles is currently recovering from Covid but is poised to resume official engagements today presenting the Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for higher and further education at St James’s Palace.
For the best part of four decades, Mr Fawcett was the man Charles famously could not live without. The 59-year-old former valet rose to become one of the most powerful and influential figures in the future king’s court.
But he was dogged by controversy and was twice forced to resign after being accused of bullying staff and selling unwanted royal gifts. On both occasions he was reinstated and was later awarded a lucrative contract by the prince to organise most of his official and private entertaining.
In 2007, Mr Fawcett was made chief executive of Scotland’s Dumfries House, a stately home the prince helped save for the nation.
Then in 2018, following a reorganisation of Charles’s charities, Mr Fawcett became the £95,000-a-year chief executive of the newly created The Prince’s Foundation – to the concern of some household staff.
The cash-for-honours allegations centre around the conduct of Mr Fawcett and Mr Mahfouz’s donations to restoration projects of particular interest to Prince Charles.
The billionaire, who denies any wrongdoing, has given more than £1.5 million to The Prince’s Foundation, spent mostly on renovating two of Charles’s Scottish properties, where parts of the grounds are named after him.
Last September, a letter emerged that Mr Fawcett had written to Mr Mahfouz’s aide in 2017, in which he said: ‘In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency Sheikh Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, 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 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.’
Mr Fawcett was forced to resign from the foundation over the revelations reported in The Mail on Sunday.
At the time of the claims, Prince Harry revealed he had cut links with Mr Mahfouz in 2015 because of ‘concerns over his motives’.
In December, a probe by auditing firm Ernst & Young into fundraising practices found there was some evidence of communication between Mr Fawcett and ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014 and 2018.
A spokesman for The Prince’s Foundation said: ‘It would be inappropriate to comment on an ongoing investigation.’
A spokesman for Mr 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’.