The chairman of Prince Charles' charity has resigned, expressing concerns over reports that the organisation accepted a six-figure sum from a Russian donor.
Charles allegedly wrote a letter thanking the Russian businessman for his offer of more than £500,000 to the Prince’s Foundation last year, and suggested they could meet when the Covid pandemic was over.
The charity initially received £100,000 but the total sum was reportedly rejected by its ethics committee, due to concerns about where the money came from, according to the Sunday Times.
The Scottish Charity Regulator launched an investigation earlier this week.
It's the latest disquiet at the charity after Michael Fawcett, chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation, was accused of promising to help a Saudi billionaire donor secure a knighthood and British citizenship.
Chairman of the Prince's Foundation Douglas Connell announced on Wednesday he would be stepping down, saying he was "shocked and dismayed" by the newspaper reports.
Mr Connell, who has been in the role since March, said he should accept responsibility “if it appears that serious misconduct may have taken place”.
He said in a statement: “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.”
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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.
“Dame Sue Bruce, Vice Chair, will take on the role of Acting Chair with immediate effect.
“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.”
ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship reports on the relationship between Prince Charles and Michael Fawcett, who has been accused of being involved in an alleged cash-for-honours scandal
Chris Martin, the executive director of development at the Prince’s Foundation, is understood to have stepped down from his position pending the outcome of the investigation.
Last week Michael Fawcett, chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation, was accused of promising to help a Saudi billionaire donor secure a knighthood and British citizenship.
The alleged cash-for-honours scandal led to Mr Fawcett, one of the prince's most trusted confidants, temporarily stepping down as the chief executive.
Mr Fawcett has declined to answer questions about the allegations.
When asked by reporters last week whether he "secured honours for cash" or whether he "had any comments" on the matter, he remained silent."
Michael Fawcett remains silent as he's asked if he secured "honours for cash"
Charles and Mr Fawcett were reported to police but Clarence House said the prince had “no knowledge” of the issue.
Charles is president of the foundation but not involved with its governance, with the charity’s trustees overseeing the day-to-day activities.
A separate investigation was launched into the allegations relating to Mr Fawcett by an independent team on behalf of the foundation’s trustees.
A Clarence House spokesman said the Prince of Wales "fully supports the investigation".