A former British government minister has told The Daily Beast that he’s made two formal complaints to the police against Prince Charles, alleging that he and his top aide arranged for an honor to be awarded to a Saudi businessman who had donated more than $2 million to his pet causes.
The Right Honorable Norman Baker, who was the Home Office minister for crime prevention from 2013 to 2014 and a transport minister for three and a half years before that, told The Daily Beast that he has written privately to Cressida Dick, the head of London’s Metropolitan Police force, and filed a complaint against Prince Charles via normal channels in an effort to force a police investigation into the affair.
Another noted anti-monarchy campaigner, Graham Smith of the pressure group Republic, told The Daily Beast he had also filed a complaint against Charles. All the complaints accuse both Charles and his former valet and key aide, Michael Fawcett, of violating the Honors (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925.
A spokesperson for the police told The Daily Beast: “The Met can confirm that we have received a letter about this matter and officers are currently assessing this information.”
The complaints come after a tumultuous two days for Charles.
An email was published Sunday that showed Fawcett saying he would obtain an honor for Saudi businessman Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz and help his application for British citizenship in return for donations of more than £1.5 million ($2.1 million) to Charles’ Scottish charities.
In the letter, reportedly sent in 2017 when Fawcett was chief executive of Charles’ Scottish charity, Dumfries House Trust, which manages the Dumfries House estate, Fawcett wrote to an aide of bin Mahfouz, “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. 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.”
A letter from another fixer, William Bortrick, written in May 2014, said that bin Mahfouz’s application for citizenship would “now take the highest priority,” adding, “His Royal Highness supports these applications 100 per cent, as there is no greater example of contribution [than] yours, therefore this should be rewarded and recognised accordingly.”
An honor, such as the CBE (Commander of the British Empire) that bin Mahfouz was ultimately awarded, bestows no special privileges on the holder; it is, however, a sought-after sign of official establishment appreciation.
Prince Charles has strongly denied any knowledge of the entire scheme. A spokesperson said, “The Prince of Wales has no knowledge of the alleged offer of honors or British citizenship on the basis of donation to his charities and fully supports the investigation now underway by the Prince’s Foundation.”
However, this claim was ridiculed by Baker on Tuesday, who told The Daily Beast, “Michael Fawcett and Prince Charles are Tweedledum and Tweedledee. They talk three or four times a day. The idea that Fawcett was running a rogue operation without telling him is simply unbelievable.”
Fawcett has long been known as Charles’ closest and most indispensable aide and is famously said to have squeezed toothpaste onto the royal toothbrush after Charles hurt his arm playing polo. Charles has been quoted as saying, “I can manage without just about anyone, except for Michael.”
Fawcett has been forced to resign from Charles’ service twice before—once over bullying accusations in 1998 and again in 2003 for selling royal gifts—but has been restored to a position of power and influence by Charles on each occasion. After the most recent allegations broke, he said he was voluntarily stepping down as the chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation while an internal investigation took place.
Baker, who is the author of And What Do You Do, a detailed investigation into the royal family’s use of public money, told The Daily Beast, “Charles’ strategy is clear. One, say, ‘It’s not me,’ and put as much distance between himself and Michael Fawcett as possible; two, order up an internal investigation, which is really a patsy investigation; three, Michael Fawcett gets a rap on the knuckles, and maybe has to resign; four, reappoint him when no one’s looking. It’s not good enough.”
Baker added, “Charles has had a long history over decades now of trying to raise money for his causes and not looking too closely at what favors are given in return as long as the money continues to roll in. It’s not just unethical; it’s naive. These people don’t give him money because they share his philanthropic views; they want an honor, or they want citizenship, or they want to sit next to him or get a photograph with him. It’s a transactional way into the establishment.”
Graham Smith, CEO of pressure group Republic, told The Daily Beast, “My complaint says that on the evidence in the public domain, Charles has breached the honors rules. People are pointing to Fawcett but in my report to the police, I say it is not credible to think he didn’t know anything about it. It’s difficult to see how Michael Fawcett could procure an honor for someone without involving Prince Charles. The only way Fawcett could promise donors an honor is by having a chat with Prince Charles.”