Chair of royal charity quits as regulator opens investigation

The chair of The Prince’s Foundation has stepped down following claims the charity accepted a six-figure sum from a wealthy Russian donor in return for a meeting with Prince Charles.

According to reports in The Sunday Times newspaper, Prince Charles sent a letter thanking the businessman and banker Dmitry Leus for his £500,000 offer to the charity last year and proposed a meeting after the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity initially received £100,000, but the money was reportedly rejected by the foundation’s ethics committee. There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Prince Charles.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has announced an investigation following the allegations.

The foundation’s chairman, Douglas Connell, said in a statement yesterday: “I am both shocked and dismayed by newspaper reports that rogue activity of various kinds may have taken place within and outside the Prince’s Foundation.

“I and the other members of the board of trustees had no knowledge of any such activity and we have launched a rigorous and independent investigation.

“My view is that the person chairing any organisation should take responsibility if it appears that serious misconduct may have taken place within it.

“I believe that the correct course of action is for the chair to accept that responsibility and to stand down from the role.”

A spokesman for The Prince’s Foundation said: “The Prince’s Foundation understands and respects Mr Connell’s decision to step down. We would like to thank him for all his work to date and wish him well.

“The Prince’s Foundation takes very seriously the allegations made in recent news articles and is committed to the highest ethical standards.

“These changes to the board of trustees will not impact the scope or timing of the rigorous independent investigation already underway.”

The charity’s vice-chair, Sue Bruce, will take on the role of acting chair with immediate effect.

It is also reported that Chris Martin, executive director of development at The Prince’s Foundation, has stood down from his position pending the outcome of the investigation.

The Scottish Charity Regulator said: “We have been working with The Prince’s Foundation to better understand the use of the organisation’s funds, and to gain a full understanding of the work which is being undertaken by the charity’s trustees to investigate the range of issues which have been raised.

“It is the responsibility of all charity trustees, the people who manage and control a charity, to act at all times in the interests of the charity and comply with their legal duties in doing so.

“In particular, they must ensure that all funds are spent in achieving the charity’s purposes, and ensure that grants or donations are used in line with any conditions imposed.

“We will consider what, if any, further action is appropriate for us to take when we have been able to fully consider information provided to us by the charity.”

The new investigation follows allegations made last week that the foundation’s chief executive helped secure an honour for a Saudi Arabian businessman.

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