The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has contacted The Prince’s Foundation following allegations that the charity’s chief executive helped secure an honour for a Saudi Arabian businessman.
The Sunday Times newspaper yesterday reported that leaked emails showed Michael Fawcett helped “fix” a CBE for Mahfouz Marei Mubarak bin Mahfouz after he had donated more than £1.5m to royal charities. Mahfouz denies any wrongdoing.
The donations helped fund the renovations of residences used by Prince Charles and other charitable ventures, the paper said.
The reports claimed Fawcett “co-ordinated the application process and helped upgrade the proposed honour for Mahfouz from an OBE to CBE”.
Fawcett was described as an “aide” to Prince Charles but the charity said the use of this word to describe those in question, as used by some newspapers, was inaccurate.
He has temporarily stepped down from the top job at the charity while an investigation is carried out. Chief operating officer Emily Cherrington will take over in the interim.
Douglas Connell, chair of The Prince's Foundation, said: “Michael Fawcett offered to step down temporarily from active duties as chief executive of The Prince's Foundation while the trustees’ investigation is ongoing.
“The Prince’s Foundation has accepted this offer.
“Michael fully supports the ongoing investigation and has confirmed that he will assist the investigation in every way."
The fresh claims follow allegations published at the end of last month that a “fixer” called Michael Wynne-Parker set up “cash for access” deals for wealthy donors to meet Prince Charles.
The charity said: "The Prince's Foundation takes very seriously the allegations that have recently been brought to its attention and the matter is currently under investigation.
"The scope of The Prince’s Foundation investigation has been extended to cover this weekend’s newspaper reports.
“The trustees had already arranged an independent review by an external senior forensic accountant from a ‘big four’ accountancy firm.
"We are incredibly proud of The Prince's Foundation's charitable work and the positive impact it has on our beneficiaries throughout the UK and across the world.
“Our education and training programmes, in particular, benefit more than 15,000 people every year, and provide our students with the skills and confidence needed to gain employment or start their own businesses."
A spokesperson for the OSCR said: “We have been in contact with the charity to ask for further details of the issues which have appeared in the media over the past week.
“Once we have more information we will consider this in line with our published policies.”