New letters and emails have come to light showing how Prince Charles’ closest aide helped secure prestigious honours for a Saudi tycoon.
Michael Fawcett, for years a trusted ally of Prince Charles, resigned as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation earlier this month amid allegations he helped fix a CBE and British citizenship for billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who donated more than £1.5 million to royal charities.
The vast majority of the donations were spent renovating two of Charles’s Scottish properties, where parts of the grounds are named after Mahfouz bin Mahfouz.
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 the donations.
Significantly, a letter then emerged, written by Mr Fawcett to Dr Mahfouz in 2017, in which Charles’ aide said the Prince’s Foundation would be ‘happy and willing’ to use its influence to help him.
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 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
It 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.’
An independent report into the ‘cash for honours’ scandal is understood to be complete and its findings will be shared with the trustees of the Prince’s Foundation as early as this week.
It comes amid mounting pressure for police to launch a probe of their own into the allegations.
As pressure intensifies on the scandal, new letters and emails have come to light leaving a paper trail of Mr Fawcett’s role in the billionaire being awarded the honour, The Times reports.
Hundreds of pages of new evidence have shown Prince Charles’ advisors gathered at his London residence, Clarence House, with paid fixers of Mahfouz bin Mahfouz with the aim of setting out a plan on how to grant him an honour.
The documents show Prince Charles’ advisors gathered at Clarence House, his official London residence, with paid fixers to Dr Mahfouz.
The purpose of this meeting was to set out a plan as to how the Dr Mahfouz could secure an honour.
Charles’ advisors did so with the agreement of money, with Dr Mahfouz’s fixers saying ‘more money will flow’ once he has been awarded an honour.
Hundreds of pages of new evidence have shown Prince Charles’ advisors gathered at his London residence, Clarence House, with paid fixers of Mahfouz bin Mahfouz with the aim of setting out a plan on how to grant him an honour (Pictured: Prince Charles during royal visit to Egypt last week)
However, Mr Fawcett told those present he had been advised not to nominate Dr Mahfouz directly on the grounds it could be seen as inappropriate as the Royal Family controls the honours system.
To work around the issue, the prince’s aides would get in contact with Dame Lynne Brindley, then master of Pembroke College, Oxford, which had already been in receipt of millions of Dr Mahfouz’s donations.
They would ask her to nominate Dr Mahfouz instead, though Mr Fawcett would still supervise and send the letter for her.
Mr Fawcett would then send his support once he was made aware of Dame Lynne’s letter.
Dame Lynne is alleged to have agreed to the plot.
William Bortrick, a paid advisor to Dr Mahfouz, alleged last month that Prince Charles was ‘100 per cent’ behind an offer to help the tycoon.
Clarence House maintains Prince Charles had ‘no knowledge’ of an alleged offer of honours or citizenship.
Dr Mahfouz received his CBE during a private ceremony at Clarence House in 2016.
A paper trail has shown the ceremony was years in the making.
The key dates and paper trail linking Michael Fawcett to Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz
Documents have shown a private exchange, dating back to April 2013, in which paid fixers for Dr Mahfouz state it is time to ‘discover the protocol’ for being awarded an MBE. They add that the Saudi billionaire also seeks British citizenship.
The next month, the fixers introduce Dr Mahfouz to Ashe Windham, a former member of Charles’ household and then chairman of the trustees at one of his Scottish residences, who tentatively asks for a donation.
In July, Dr Mahfouz donates £20,000 to the Castle of Mey. Mr Windham is then praised by Dr Mahfouz’s fixers for ‘brilliantly organising’ a private trip to the residence in October.
Having initially said he would be unable to organise a meeting between the Saudi and Prince Charles, Mr Windham changes tack following a lunch with Mr Fawcett and one of the fixers.
A subsequent letter from Mr Windham to Dr Mahfouz says Prince Charles ‘would like to find an opportunity to thank you in person’ if he goes ahead with ‘further support’.
At the start of 2014, a fixer then asks another ‘what is happening and when?’ in reference to the OBE.
One of the fixers then writes to say the application process will begin imminently, before they receive confirmation of a meeting between Dr Mahfouz and Charles scheduled at Clarence House for March 27.
The meeting goes ahead as planned, with a letter showing one of Dr Mahfouz’s fixers saying their friendship will ‘lead to further very special personal and individual honours’.
Dr Mahfouz also agrees to donate £1m to Dumfries House two weeks later, with Charles pledging to rename restored gardens at the residence as the Mahfouz Gardens.
A letter written by Mr Fawcett to a fixer on April 25, 2014, then states Prince Charles backs Dr Mahfouz’s application for citizenship ‘100 per cent’. Charles’ ally also writes to say the prince will thank him personally for his ‘generous gifts’.
In June, Mahfouz donates £700,000 to Dumfries House.
Preparations then begin for a secret meeting at Clarence House between Mr Fawcett and Dr Mahfouz’s fixers. In July, Mr Fawcett says he will ‘contact the British ambassador’ and note the important points that need to be made supporting the application for an OBE.
A fixer also writes ahead of the meeting that the OBE is ‘the first item on the agenda’.
The meeting took place in September 2014, with minutes of the meeting showing Mr Fawcett agreeing to supervise the application, rather than being the main nominator’.
Eight days after the meeting, on September 13, a fixer says Dame Lynne Bradley is ‘delighted to assist in any way’, though Charles’ aides want to see a draft before the letter of recommendation is sent to ensure it is ‘tickety-boo’.
The letter is finalised on September 24 and Dame Lynne is instructed to address it to the British ambassador in Riyadh. Mr Fawcett receives the letter the next week with a supporting statement from Mr Windham.
Dr Mahfouz stays overnight at Dumfries House on October 20, before Mr Fawcett writes to thank him for his ‘very lovely gift’ that was ‘totally unnecessary’.
In February 2015, a fixer writes to Mr Windham that Charles has agreed to see Dr Mahfouz at the British embassy during a tour to the Middle East the next week.
The pair meet on February 10, the day before Richard Wildash, the deputy head of mission in Riyadh, writes to Mr Windham providing advice on where to direct the application – the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in Whitehall.
Dame Lynne resubmits Dr Mahfouz’s nomination to the FCO on March 9.
Dr Mahfouz is finally awarded the CBE on November 23, 2016, in a private investiture at Clarence House.
Dame Lynne says she nominated Dr Mahfouz ‘because of the significant impact he had on the life and well-being of the institution [Pembroke College] and his ongoing interest in, and support for, its educational and research activity’.
She added she ‘acted in good faith’ and ‘for good reason’, rejecting allegations she acted under the direction of others.
The Prince of Wales personally handed an honorary knighthood to Dr Mahfouz during the taxpayer-funded trip to the Middle East, the event was not mentioned in the 774-word Court Circular descriptions of the future King’s activities.
Pictures of the investiture emerged only when Mr Jameel posted them on his personal website.
Former Minister Norman Baker said in September he would be writing to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick today 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.
Forensic accountants were brought in as part of an independent investigation after the Mail on Sunday revealed that the Prince’s Foundation’s chief executive Michael Fawcett had written the letter to Dr Mahfouz.
Dr Bin Mahfouz has previously said he had ‘not had personal or direct communication to either request, influence or make any arrangements regarding citizenship or knighthood with Michael Fawcett, or anyone connected to HRH The Prince of Wales or The Prince’s Foundation’.