Critics have accused the British state of double standards and corruption after the police dropped a corruption investigation into King Charles’ former valet, who allegedly offered a wealthy Saudi donor an honor and help with obtaining a British passport in return for donations to the then Prince of Wales’ pet causes.
Despite the existence of a letter purportedly from Michael Fawcett (who was then chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation) to an aide of a wealthy Saudi businessman, police said Monday that no further action was going to be taken.
The news has been greeted with outrage by critics and relief by Charles’ circle, who have always said Charles would have known nothing about the offer made to Saudi billionaire Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz by Fawcett. Fawcett started his career as Charles’ valet and became the object of ridicule after it was reported he had squeezed toothpaste onto the young prince’s toothbrush after he broke his arm in a polo game.
On Aug. 18, 2017, Fawcett allegedly wrote to Busief Lamlum, an aide to Bin Mahfouz, who had donated hundreds of thousands of pounds to charities operating under Charles’ aegis, 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.
“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.”
“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.”
The letter’s existence was reported by the Mail on Sunday in November 2021 and within hours of its publication Fawcett had resigned from his role at the Prince’s Trust.
After the letter was published, a complaint was made to the police by former MP and cabinet minister Norman Baker. Investigations proceeded slowly and the king was never interviewed despite saying he was willing to co-operate.
On Monday, the police quietly announced that they would not be proceeding with the investigation. They did not say why.
Baker condemned the decision not to proceed as evidence of corruption and double standards.
He told The Daily Beast: “It’s an open and shut case. People were condemned out of their own mouths. The letter said, give us some money, and we’ll help you with your application for citizenship and a further honor. I mean, that that was there in black and white.
“I think the U.K., sadly, is more corrupt than it used to be. And I think it’s also a place where vested interests are not challenged as much as they should be. The fact that people get away with it has probably encouraged others. There is a message here; that if you’re an important person, and you have got friends in the right places, then you can get away with things.”
He said a normal person would have gotten a “very different result.”
Graham Smith, CEO of Republic, an organization that campaigns for the abolition of the monarchy, told The Daily Beast: “If you look at the letter from Michael Fawcett, the evidence couldn’t be clearer. He was very clearly and explicitly saying, ‘We will help you get an honour in response to the donation.’” And that donation was made to a charity that helps to maintain Dumfries House.
“Fawcett couldn’t possibly promise an honour without the knowledge and support of Charles. So the notion that the police would drop the investigation without having even spoken to Charles is absurd,” Smith said.
“I think Charles will have learned a helpful lesson from this, which is that he can do what he likes without any fear of consequences.
“This is not the first time the Met have ignored accusations against the royals. When Charles was accused of having received €3 million in cash from a Qatari politician, for example, the police should have investigated that, because there are laws about bringing money into the country, and there are laws around money laundering. But they just ignored it.”
“And, of course, Virginia Roberts reported Andrew to the Met many years ago, and they ignored that as well,” he said. “I think it reflects very badly on the royals. Charles is someone who clearly has no concerns about living by the standards that the rest of us have to live by.”
The police inquiry was launched after media published a series of letters between Fawcett and fixers and representatives for Mahfouz’s.
Mahfouz has consistently denied any wrongdoing. He has been a major donor to Charles’ charities and has a forest named for him him, the Mahfouz Wood, at the Castle of Mey in Scotland. He is believed to have donated close to $2 million to Charles-related charities.