Prince Charles was dragged into a ‘cash for access’ row yesterday after the Tory party‘s co-chairman was accused of arranging a private dinner between the heir to the throne and a wealthy businessman.
The Prince of Wales is said to have had an ‘intimate dinner’ with telecoms tycoon Mohamed Amersi at Dumfries House in Scotland – allegedly arranged by Ben Elliot, the nephew of Charles’s wife Camilla.
The meeting was said to have been organised via Quintessentially, Mr Elliot’s ‘luxury lifestyle management service’, to which Mr Amersi had paid an annual £15,000 fee as an ‘elite’ member.
Ben Elliot (right), 45, introduced super-rich clients from his company Quintessentially to the Prince of Wales (left)
In the wake of the dinner, the 61-year-old businessman provided more than £1.2million to the prince’s charities and was given access to him.
Yesterday Mr Elliot, 45, was accused by Mr Amersi of facilitating ‘access capitalism’ and of providing access to a senior royal.
But the Tory co-chairman insisted there was no conflict of interest and the meeting between Charles and Mr Amersi had been ‘entirely about helping to raise money for charity’.
Sources at the royal household expressed disappointment that the Prince of Wales had been dragged into a ‘political’ row when all his efforts were ‘focussed on fundraising for charity’.
Telecoms millionaire Mohamed Amersi, 61, paid £15,000 a year to be an elite member of the luxury concierge business
A Clarence House source insisted the prince was grateful for all the support Mr Elliot had provided and made clear there was no personal financial benefit.
It was claimed at the weekend that Mr Elliot had set up an exclusive club for the biggest Tory donors to meet the Prime Minister and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Labour said the allegations exposed a ‘cash for access’ culture at the heart of the Conservative Party.
A No 10 source insisted no special access had been given other than was normal for party donors.
A friend of the Prime Minister praised how Mr Elliot had modernised the party structure and its finances which had record donations thanks to his efforts.
A friend of Mr Elliot said: ‘Ben is a buccaneer but no one ever doubts he is a straight player. He makes no apologies for raising money for charities he believes in, which includes the Prince of Wales’s, and is adamant that there is no conflict of interest with his charity and political work which he keeps separate.’
Emails revealed by the Sunday Times yesterday revealed the access Mr Elliot obtained to his uncle for Mr Amersi.
Elliot appealed for donations for friend and Tory minister Zac Goldsmith (pictured) using his royal conections
In 2013 the firm arranged for him to fly to meet the heir to the throne over dinner at Dumfries House, a stately home in Ayrshire that the prince helped save.
He offered a chauffeur and private jet and sent a timetable for a guided tour of the mansion before his intimate meal with ‘HRH’. Mr Amersi has since donated more than £1.2million to the prince’s charities and has become a trustee of the Prince’s Trust International and a board member of Charles’s Mosaic Network initiative.
A message obtained by the newspaper showed that Mr Elliot told Mr Amersi ‘well done’ when he heard about his first donation.
In a leaked email from 2015, he allegedly told the British businessman that the prince ‘spoke highly of you’ before asking for a donation to the mayoral campaign of his friend Zac Goldsmith.
Mr Amersi told the Sunday Times he would never have met the heir to the throne if he had not signed up to the ‘very top tier’ of Mr Elliot’s luxury service. He said his membership had opened doors to the Establishment, including ‘Clarence House, St James’s Palace, Buckingham Palace, Dumfries House’.
Mr Amersi described this arrangement as ‘access capitalism’. He added: ‘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.’ Charles has attended several events hosted by the Quintessentially Foundation, the firm’s charitable arm, including one at Clarence House.
Labour chairman Anneliese Dodds said: ‘It cannot be right that Ben Elliot is offering a select group of elite donors privileged access to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.
‘And if the inducements to donate to the Conservative Party or become a client of Quintessentially include professing to offer access to the Royal Family then that is totally unacceptable.’
But a spokesman for Mr Elliot said: ‘Mr Elliot assisted Mr Amersi in meeting the Prince of Wales because he wanted to support the prince’s charitable work, and Mr Elliot is proud that led to large donations from Mr Amersi to good causes.’