Michael Fawcett letter to be a key part of inquiry by Met Police

Michael Fawcett letter offering to help a Saudi billionaire for cash donations that was revealed by the Mail on Sunday to be a key part of inquiry by Met Police

  • Michael Fawcett dramatically resigned from The Prince’s Foundation last week
  • It came over two months after the MoS published contents of a damning letter
  • Mr Fawcett said charity would be ‘happy’ to use influence to help businessman

The Mail on Sunday’s exclusive revelation that an aide to the Prince of Wales offered to help a Saudi billionaire obtain a knighthood and British citizenship in exchange for ‘generous’ cash donations will form the basis of police inquiries, The Mail on Sunday has learned.

Michael Fawcett dramatically resigned as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation last week – more than two months after the MoS published the contents of a damning letter.

In it, Mr Fawcett said the Royal charity would be ‘happy and willing’ to use its influence to help businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who had donated thousands of pounds.

On August 18, 2017, Mr Fawcett wrote to Busief Lamlum, an aide to Dr Bin Mahfouz, saying: ‘In light of the ongoing and most recent generosity of His Excellency… I am happy to confirm to you, in confidence, that we are willing and happy to support and contribute to the application for Citizenship.

Michael Fawcett dramatically resigned as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation last week – more than two months after the MoS published the contents of a damning letter

‘I can further confirm that 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.’

The sheikh received an honorary CBE for services to charity from Prince Charles in a private Buckingham Palace ceremony in 2016.

Yet in a letter obtained by the MoS, which will now form the basis for police inquiries, Mr Fawcett makes a direct link between Dr Bin Mahfouz’s incoming financial support and the support he will get in return for the knighthood and citizenship application.

Writing on headed notepaper in his then capacity as chief executive of the Dumfries House Trust, Mr Fawcett said: ‘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. I hope that this confirmation is sufficient in allowing us to go forward.’

Within hours of The Mail on Sunday contacting the Foundation about the existence of the letter, Mr Fawcett announced that he was stepping aside.

An independent inquiry was launched by the charity, but last week it was confirmed that he would not return to his £95,000- a-year post and had been replaced permanently by chief operating officer Emily Cherrington.

Prince Charles touring the Granary Accommodation, with Lord Thurso (pictured left) and Michael Fawcett (right) in 2019

A spokesman for The Prince’s Foundation confirmed that Mr Fawcett had resigned as chief executive, and said its inquiry, led by an external firm of forensic accountants, was ongoing.

Friends of Mr Fawcett say he is ‘fragile’ and in ‘a bad way’ after stepping down, having served the Royal Family for 40 years.

The Prince of Wales’s former valet became one of Charles’s most trusted advisers. His wife Debbie, who buys gifts on behalf of Charles, will leave her role in January.

A spokesman for Dr Bin Mahfouz said he had never sought to request or influence arrangements regarding citizenship or a knighthood with Mr Fawcett or anyone connected to the Prince or his Foundation.

The Mail on Sunday understands that while a full investigation is yet to be launched, ‘initial inquiries’ were well under way.

Former Minister Norman Baker has urged Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to set up a full investigation. A Met spokesman said: ‘Officers are carrying out an assessment of the information within the letter and are making initial inquiries.’

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