The Prince of Wales believes he has become “collateral damage” in the bitter cash-for-access dispute engulfing the Conservative Party.
Prince Charles fears he “is being dragged into” a row that is a “political story about Tory infighting which the prince is being wrongly involved in”, The Telegraph says.
At the heart of the growing scandal is Tory co-chairman Ben Elliot, who has been accused of making money from organising meetings between wealthy businessmen and the Prince of Wales – who is his uncle.
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Elliot, 45, is the Duchess of Cornwall’s nephew and an entrepreneur who runs Quintessentially, a global concierge company for the ultra-wealthy. Through it, Elliot introduced clients to the future king – but only after they spent tens of thousands of pounds on a membership scheme, according to a report in The Sunday Times.
One of those clients, Mohamed Amersi, a telecoms millionaire and a major Tory donor, told the newspaper that in 2013, Quintessentially arranged for him to fly to meet Prince Charles over “an intimate dinner” at Dumfries House in Scotland.
As a result of the meeting Amersi became a trustee of one of Charles’s charities. He has since donated more than £1.2m to causes supported by the prince.
Leaked emails reportedly show Elliot congratulating Amersi on his first donation by writing: “Well done.”
Asked if Elliot was operating a pay-to-play scheme, the businessman replied: “You call it pay-to-play, I call it access capitalism. It’s the same point. You get access, you get invitations, you get privileged relationships if you are part of the set-up, and where you are financially making a contribution to be a part of that set up. Absolutely.”
According to the Telegraph, however, friends of Prince Charles have pointed out that he has “a number of charitable interests and it is no surprise he seeks funding from wealthy benefactors”. Sources believe the prince is “collateral damage” for the dispute, says the newspaper.
In the wake of the revelations, Anneliese Dodds, the Labour Party chairwoman, said the Conservative Party has “serious questions to answer over this latest cash for access scandal”, adding: “The way that Boris Johnson and his friends go about their business seems to be less about what is right and more about what they can get away with.”
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