The Prince of Wales has said he is willing to speak to detectives after the Metropolitan Police announced it had opened a criminal investigation into an alleged “cash for honours” scandal involving one of his closest former aides.
Officers are examining claims that Michael Fawcett, once Prince Charles’ right-hand man, helped secure honours for Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who had given more than £1.5million to the Prince’s Foundation charity.
The police investigation is being led by the Met’s Special Enquiry Team, the same unit in charge of the Downing Street “partygate” investigation.
Mr Fawcett, who has since resigned as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation, has been accused of promising to help the billionaire achieve British citizenship and a knighthood. Both men have denied any wrongdoing.
A source said about the police investigation: “His Royal Highness is happy to help if asked. He has not been.” Charles is president of the foundation but not involved with its day-to-day activities.
The royal family has already seen its reputation bruised by the Duke of York’s sexual assault civil case. The developments came as the Queen on Wednesday made her first public appearance since last week’s Covid scare.
Pressure group Republic contacted Scotland Yard and reported both the future king and Mr Fawcetton on suspicion of breaching the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act. Ex-Lib Dem MP Norman Baker also wrote to the Met asking it to launch a criminal probe into the allegations. Last autumn, the Mail on Sunday published a letter from 2017 in which Mr Fawcett reportedly wrote that he was willing to make an application to change Mr Mahfouz’s honorary CBE to a knighthood, and support his application for citizenship.
The letter said the applications would be made in response to his “most recent and anticipated support”. Mr Mahfouz, listed as a supporter on The Prince’s Foundation website, is reported to have donated large sums to restoration projects of particular interest to Charles.
The Prince’s Foundation commissioned an independent investigation into the allegations, which found evidence of Mr Fawcett’s “communications and co-ordination” with “so-called ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor”.
Scotland Yard confirmed it has launched an investigation, but added: “There have been no arrests or interviews under caution.”
One top lawyer said it is “highly unlikely” that Prince Charles will be interviewed by police.
Clarence House said he had no knowledge of the alleged offer. The Standard has contacted Mr Fawcett for comment.