Prince Harry has risked another public rift with his father after claiming he raised concerns about the donor in the ‘cash for access’ scandal.
Harry said he had ‘concerns’ over the businessman’s ‘motives’. He made the comments after it was revealed that he had held a private meeting with Mr Mahfouz, who has given tens of thousands of pounds to charities associated with the duke.
The billionaire is embroiled in claims that he showered money on charitable causes close to the Prince of Wales in the hope of obtaining an honour and British citizenship.
Harry is said to have become concerned about Mr Mahfouz in 2014 and wound down their relationship the following year, having met him twice.
But in an extraordinary statement which could spark a family rift, Harry said he had no involvement in what he described as the ‘CBE scandal’, insisted he had concerns about the Saudi businessman’s ‘motives’ and claimed he ‘expressed his concerns’ about him.
Charles has been engulfed by criticism in recent months owing to his relationship with Mr Mahfouz and the hundreds of thousands of pounds the billionaire donated to the royal’s pet projects via his charitable trust.
The prince’s senior aide Michael Fawcett was forced to resign as head of The Prince’s Foundation last month over his role in the scandal.
An independent investigation last week found Mr Fawcett had colluded with ‘fixers’ representing Mr Mahfouz who were trying to secure an honour in exchange for donations.
Prince Charles’s former closest aide looks a far cry from his previous polished self on a Christmas shopping trip this weekend.
It was the first time Michael Fawcett had been seen since his resignation as chief executive of the Prince’s Foundation last month.
Wearing loose-fitting black hoodie, jeans and white trainers, the 59-year-old stocked up on firewood and lights at a Homebase in Richmond, west London, on Saturday. Mr Fawcett stepped down following reports that he promised to secure a knighthood and British citizenship for Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz, who had given more than £1.5million to the Prince’s Foundation.
It is not yet clear whether any sanctions will be taken against the former royal valet. The Metropolitan Police are looking into the claims.
Mr Mahfouz is thought to have donated at least £1.5 million to royal charities.
The Duke of Sussex said that when he cut ties with Mr Mahfouz in 2015, he ‘expressed his concerns about the donor’. But his statement did not make clear to whom he voiced these qualms.
The following year, Charles presented the Saudi billionaire with an ‘honorary’ CBE in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace. The Prince of Wales and Mr Mahfouz also held private meetings in Scotland and Saudi Arabia.
Clarence House yesterday repeated that Charles had ‘no knowledge’ of the ‘cash for access’ allegations, but it did not comment on whether Harry raised concerns with him about Mr Mahfouz.
The Metropolitan Police has made initial inquiries into Mr Fawcett, but a full investigation has not been launched.
Last night ex-Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who filed a criminal complaint about the matter three months ago, said: ‘The fact Harry dropped this guy should have been a red light for Charles, but clearly he ignored that and drove straight through.’
Royal commentator Peter Hunt added: ‘Prince Charles presented Mr Mahfouz with his CBE in 2016. Did Prince Harry tell him about his concerns in 2015?
‘Just one of the many questions the Metropolitan Police could ask father and son if they choose to investigate.’
Harry first met Mr Mahfouz in 2013 at a pub in Chelsea, west London, owned by Mark Dyer, a former royal equerry, The Sunday Times revealed yesterday.
They discussed the duke’s charity Sentebale, set up in 2006 to help people in Lesotho and Botswana affected by Aids, following his gap year in Africa.
The newspaper reported the pair met again at Clarence House the following year after Charles had also met Mr Mahfouz, where Harry allegedly joked: ‘Has father beaten me to it and got the money?’