Charity founded by Prince Harry denies any impropriety over Mahfouz Foundation donations

A spokesperson for the children's charity Sentebale said it is entirely normal and legitimate for patrons to meet potential donors

A charity founded by the Duke of Sussex has denied there was any impropriety involved when it accepted donations from a Saudi Arabian billionaire about seven years ago.

The children and young people's charity Sentebale was founded by Prince Harry and Prince Seeiso of Lesotho in 2006.

Reports in The Sunday Times yesterday alleged that Prince Harry agreed to see Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz in 2013 after he made a donation of £50,000 to the charity.

The newspaper claimed they met more than once to discuss the work of Sentebale, and that the meetings opened the door for access to the Prince of Wales, a claim the Duke of Sussex has denied.

In a statement, the duke claimed he severed ties with Mahfouz in 2015 and had "expressed concerns" about the motives of the donor.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator contacted Prince Charles’ charity, The Prince’s Foundation, in September following allegations that the charity’s chief executive helped secure an honour for Mahfouz.

Michael Fawcett resigned as chief executive of the foundation last month after temporarily stepping down when the claims were first made.

A subsequent inquiry, published at the end of last week, found that Fawcett had co-ordinated with “fixers” over honours for a donor to the charity.

The summary report said: “With respect to the allegation of securing honours for a donor in exchange for donations, there is evidence that communication and co-ordination took place between the CEO at the time and so-called ‘fixers’ regarding honorary nominations for a donor between 2014 and 2018.

“There is no evidence that trustees at the time were aware of these communications.”

A representative for the Duke of Sussex told The Sunday Times that he was disappointed by the reporting of the allegations, which the spokesperson said had been “deliberately vague to try to create a falsified link between the Duke of Sussex and the CBE scandal, of which he had no knowledge or involvement”.

The spokesperson added: “The duke and his advisers, as well as his non-profit Sentebale, severed ties with Mr Mahfouz and his associates in 2015, no longer accepting further donations to Sentebale and discontinuing any plans for a fundraising event amid growing concerns over the motives for his support.”

A spokesperson for Sentebale told Third Sector: “Since he founded Sentebale Prince Harry has worked hard to raise much needed funds to help children infected or affected by HIV in Botswana and Lesotho. All donations that we receive are made in full compliance with charity law.

“For charities, including Sentebale, it is entirely normal and legitimate for patrons to meet potential donors, on whose support we depend.

“This includes the two donations received in 2013-14 from the Mahfouz Foundation – donations that we would not have accepted if we believed there was anything improper behind them.”

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