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Charles' ex-right-hand man Michael Fawcett is in exile over the cash for honours scandal


Michael Fawcett has misplaced weight and gained a couple of gray hairs since quitting royal service, and the double-breasted fits, Turnbull & Asser shirts and silk ‘pochette’ squares that had been as soon as his sartorial trademark at the moment are confined to their wardrobe.

Whereas his previous boss, King Charles, travelled to Birkhall to mourn and replicate on his sudden elevation to the throne, the monarch’s former aide and someday toothpaste-squeezer was pounding the suburban pavements close to his house in South-West London.

Sporting tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt and scuffed white trainers, the unemployed 59-year-old appeared alone along with his ideas as he walked his labradoodle within the streets across the red-brick house he shares with spouse Debbie shortly after 9am on Thursday.

Time was when his principal type of train concerned striding throughout deep-pile carpets in tasselled loafers, attending to nice political opinions. Now his every day duties embrace posting letters, shopping for milk, and selecting up canine mess in a black plastic bag.

It wasn’t imagined to be like this. For a lot of his skilled life, which spanned nearly 4 many years, Fawcett was being groomed for a key function within the courtroom of Charles III.

Solely a yr in the past, he was being extensively tipped as the long run Grasp of the Family — a form of Chief Working Officer — in our new King’s administration; a person who would play an important function in shaping his long-awaited reign.

Then, late final yr, got here an unpleasant scandal involving the alleged sale of honours to fund his boss’s varied pet tasks. Not solely did it kill off his profession prospects, it has additionally spawned a police investigation.

Michael Fawcett was being extensively tipped as the long run Grasp of the Family in our new King’s administration earlier than a scandal late final yr. Charles as soon as mentioned he can ‘handle with out nearly anybody, apart from Michael’

For Charles, this quantities to a private in addition to skilled tragedy. ‘I can handle with out nearly anybody, apart from Michael,’ was how he as soon as famously summed up their intimate if finally doomed working relationship.

That comment was, nevertheless, made within the halcyon days earlier than Fawcett’s title turned linked to claims of palace scandal. And it was being fondly recalled amongst these near Charles as two ugly episodes unfolded within the early hours and days of the brand new King’s reign.

The primary was on the Proclamation the place Charles twice irritably complained in regards to the place of an inkwell on his desk. Then, later, there was the ‘stinking’ pen second when his fountain pen refused to work.

‘Neither would have occurred if Michael was there,’ says a determine aware of the King’s moods.

In truth pals go additional and say that, aside from Camilla, the Queen Consort, the one particular person Charles wants at his facet is Michael Fawcett. For years the 2 males had an unwritten settlement that the indispensable aide would deal with all of the pitfalls that had been certain to face the brand new sovereign.

‘Michael knew the place all of the our bodies had been buried on the Palace, who knew the secrets and techniques, who they would wish and who, extra importantly, they might discard,’ says a long-term affiliate. ‘He’d been there for 41 years and knew every part and everybody.’

Maybe essentially the most extraordinary facet of Fawcett’s rise and fall (to not point out the one which raises most questions on our new monarch’s judgment) is that it has seen him pressured to resign no fewer than 3 times in round 20 years.

He first stop because the then-Prince’s private assistant again in 1998 after being accused of bullying, solely to return a few years later. Then, in 2003, he resigned once more after being caught ‘serving to flog’ undesirable royal presents. A report exonerated him of any wrong-doing however the affair earned him the nickname ‘Fawcett the Fence’.

Wearing tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt and scuffed white trainers, the unemployed 59-year-old seemed alone with his thoughts as he walked his labradoodle in the streets around the red-brick home he shares with wife Debbie shortly after 9am on Thursday

Sporting tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt and scuffed white trainers, the unemployed 59-year-old appeared alone along with his ideas as he walked his labradoodle within the streets across the red-brick house he shares with spouse Debbie shortly after 9am on Thursday

After one other quick absence, he returned to the fold, solely to finish an inglorious hat-trick of resignations final November, when it emerged that his more moderen duties have included soliciting donations to the then Prince’s charities from a string of mysterious foreigners, together with a Russian banker named Dmitry Leus and a Saudi billionaire, Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz.

This scandal is the one which now hangs over Buckingham Palace like a poisonous cloud. For the money Mahfouz ‘donated’ is suspected to have include strings — or fairly gold silk tassels — hooked up.

Particularly, in return for taking the loot, which totalled round £1.5 million, Fawcett seems to have agreed to assist Mahfouz receive each an honorary CBE and a UK passport, in response to a slew of leaked emails and letters.

And therein lies a giant downside. For underneath legal guidelines courting again to 1925, it has been towards the regulation to just accept money in return for an honour, against the law that carries a most jail sentence of two years.

Police have duly spent the previous yr sniffing round the entire thing, and in February launched a legal investigation.

It is being run by members of Scotland Yard’s Particular Inquiry Crew — the unit that introduced you the infamous Partygate inquiry — led by one Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Prins, who beforehand labored within the Flying Squad and on Operation Trident, which was launched to deal with gun crime in London’s black communities.

But whereas Prins and his group have been in possession of correspondence between Fawcett and different aides because the spring (a few of which we will element later), seemingly they’ve but both to query Fawcett and even invite him for a proper interview, regardless of the aide having supplied his ‘full co-operation’.

‘To this point, no questions have been submitted by the police,’ Fawcett’s spouse Debbie revealed this month. ‘Nevertheless, we have now been in contact with each organisations to make it clear Michael needs to assist as quickly as they’re prepared for him to take action.’

Neither have detectives but ‘requested’ an viewers with Charles, who can be reported to have promised to talk to the police if requested.

Amid ugly rumours of an Institution cover-up, the republican foyer is now getting twitchy.

Graham Smith, of the anti-monarchy group Republic, tells us he is writing to the Metropolitan Police to hunt ‘clarification’ over the standing of its investigation.

Norman Baker, the headline-prone former Liberal Democrat MP whose grievance helped spark the inquiry, says he is additionally sharpening his pen. Neither is able to let the scandal go away and Palace insiders are more and more involved its denouement will overshadow the essential early months of King Charles’s reign.

To know how issues have come to this, we should wind the clock again to 2014, when Fawcett — the son of a book-keeper from Bexley who joined the royal family as a junior footman from catering school within the early Eighties — was again working for his previous boss after his second resignation.

It emerged that Fawcett's more recent duties have included soliciting donations to the then Prince's charities from a string of mysterious foreigners, including a Russian banker named Dmitry Leus and a Saudi billionaire, Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz (pictured)

It emerged that Fawcett’s more moderen duties have included soliciting donations to the then Prince’s charities from a string of mysterious foreigners, together with a Russian banker named Dmitry Leus and a Saudi billionaire, Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz (pictured)

It was at this level that he was contacted by representatives of Mahfouz, the son of the person who helped to arrange one in every of Saudi Arabia’s first state-owned banks.

The rich foreigner was in search of long-term residency in Britain by way of one of many authorities’s ‘golden visas’ for funding, and believed that securing honours and endorsements from well-connected folks (and establishments) might assist. Crucially, he additionally had very deep pockets. And so a deal was hatched by way of which Charles and his officers would help the rich foreigner in return for donations to 2 of the then Prince of Wales’s pet tasks: the restoration of the Fortress of Mey and Dumfries Home, a pair of historic buildings in Scotland.

A gathering was shortly organized in March 2014 at Clarence Home through which the inheritor to the throne spent half an hour with Mahfouz. Witnesses say they mentioned their shared love of Britain and curiosity in royal palaces, after which the Saudi supplied beneficiant help.

Days later, Fawcett wrote to aides of Mahfouz with blissful information: Charles now personally supported Mahfouz’s bid for a British passport. ‘You talked about His Excellency’s utility for citizenship and I can solely reiterate to you that each our trustees, and, importantly, His Royal Highness helps this utility 100 per cent,’ reads the leaked be aware. ‘There isn’t a higher instance of contribution than that of His Excellency.’

By July 2014, the plan was taking form, with Fawcett writing to stipulate ‘three prospects’ for donations to Dumfries Home, the 18th-century Palladian mansion and property in Ayrshire Charles saved for the nation.

These had been a ‘one-off’ sum of £350,000 for a ‘designer bridge’; £325,000 a yr to fund training and coaching initiatives; or £10 million to ‘design and construct homes’. He then wrote: ‘With regard to supporting a nomination for an honorary OBE for His Excellency [Mahfouz], we’d be very blissful to ship any such letter in the end outlining his philanthropy and ongoing generosity to the UK in heritage-led regeneration.’

Then, in September that yr, Fawcett met with representatives of the Saudi to supply assist with securing a CBE. Minutes counsel he proposed ‘ideally’ submitting an utility as soon as the Saudi had indicated how a lot he would donate.

The next month, Mahfouz met Charles at Dumfries home to have fun the opening of landscaped gardens and a fountain named after him, following the primary in a string of donations that may quickly go the £1 million mark.

By July 2014, the plan was taking shape, with Fawcett writing to outline 'three possibilities' for donations to Dumfries House (pictured), the 18th-century Palladian mansion and estate in Ayrshire Charles saved for the nation

By July 2014, the plan was taking form, with Fawcett writing to stipulate ‘three prospects’ for donations to Dumfries Home (pictured), the 18th-century Palladian mansion and property in Ayrshire Charles saved for the nation

The 2 males would meet but once more in February 2016, this time in Riyadh. A leaked e mail from a consultant of Mahfouz to a colleague despatched hours later learn: ‘Assembly between HRH [His Royal Highness] and MBM [Mahfouz] went very effectively certainly. You had been fairly appropriate that MF [Fawcett] is right here and we had a gathering. He’s very eager on numerous ongoing tasks with HRH and MBM.’ In a second be aware, the consultant added: ‘MBM was anticipating an Hon OBE. MF modified that to an Hon CBE . . . MBM wants to grasp that the Hon OBE was elevated to an Hon CBE.’

This gong was certainly handed out later that yr, in a non-public ceremony at Buckingham Palace that Charles presided over. For some cause, it was by no means chronicled within the Court docket Round.

Having helped him achieve a CBE, and with money persevering with to circulation, Fawcett then turned his consideration to serving to the free-spending Mahfouz safe British citizenship. And it was throughout this marketing campaign that he wrote a letter that might now be seen as a smoking gun.

Despatched to Busief Lamlum, an aide to Mahfouz on August 18, 2017, it makes a direct hyperlink between the donor’s incoming monetary help (which had come by way of a belief) and supporting an utility for each a UK passport and a knighthood.

‘Pricey Busief, Within the gentle of the continuing and most up-to-date generosity of His Excellency Sheikh Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, I’m blissful to verify to you, in confidence, that we’re keen and blissful to help and contribute to the applying for citizenship,’ it reads.

‘I can additional verify that we’re keen to make an utility to extend His Excellency’s honour from Honorary CBE to that of KBE in accordance with Her Majesty’s Honours Committee.

‘Each these functions can be made in response to the latest and anticipated help of the Belief, and in connection along with his ongoing dedication typically inside the UK. I hope this affirmation is adequate in permitting us to go ahead.’

The police, in fact, now discover themselves within the unenviable place of making an attempt to ascertain whether or not this saga extends from the merely unedifying to the legal.

Police mentioned yesterday that they’d interviewed two males underneath warning in relation to offences linked to the granting of honours.

A spokesman for Charles has beforehand mentioned that the now King had no data of the alleged supply of honours or citizenship on the premise of donations. Promoting honours has been unlawful for nearly a century. It was outlawed within the 1925 Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act, handed by parliament after revelations that the (then) Liberal chief David Lloyd George was flogging knighthoods, baronetcies and peerages in trade for celebration funds.

The act specifies that anybody who ‘accepts or obtains or agrees to just accept or makes an attempt to acquire’ presents or cash ‘as an inducement or reward for procuring or aiding or endeavouring to acquire the grant of a dignity or title of honour’ is responsible of an offence.

Nevertheless, it’s notoriously difficult to implement and just one particular person — a Liberal fixer named Maundy Gregory — has ever been convicted. He was fined £50 and jailed for 2 months again in 1933.

The infamous 2006 ‘money for honours’ scandal involving rich businessmen who gave loans to Labour and had been subsequently nominated for peerages noticed 136 folks, together with the then Prime Minister Tony Blair, interviewed by police and a 216-page report handed by police to the CPS, just for prosecutors to resolve there was inadequate proof to convey any fees.

Pursuing a case that entails a serving King — and will doubtlessly contain the Crown giving proof on behalf of the Crown — would in fact open a authorized, in addition to constitutional, can of worms. However trying to brush it underneath the carpet will create an equally horrendous stink, given the apparent ranges of public curiosity.

Additionally it is why, regardless of every part, Charles has not utterly minimize Michael Fawcett adrift.

We perceive he has requested two trusted pals to ‘preserve an eye fixed’ on his Bexley-born former aide. ‘He feels a fantastic debt for every part Michael has achieved through the years and, sure, he does fear about him,’ says a supply.

A comeback, nevertheless, appears unlikely. So whereas Michael Fawcett might by no means get to serve within the courtroom of King Charles, the bearded man in a tracksuit who spent Thursday strolling his canine close to his South-West London house is destined to form our new monarch’s reign for a while to return.

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