Prince Charles’ judgment again questioned after £1m gift from bin Laden’s half-brothers

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Prince Charles was plunged into a new fundraising scandal last night after it emerged his charity had accepted £1 million from the family of Osama bin Laden.

The Prince of Wales Charitable Foundation (PWCF) secured a large payment from Bakr and Shafiq Bin Laden, the mastermind’s half-brothers 9/11 terrorist attacks, they reported last night.

The donation came after a private meeting between Charles and Bakro, 76, at Clarence House in 2013 – two years after US special forces killed Bin Laden.

Last night, royal sources denied claims that Charles personally intervened in the controversial deal or that he accepted the money despite objections from advisers.

They also disputed a report that one of his advisers had warned the prince that “it wouldn’t be good for anyone” if it turned out he had accepted money from the family of the al Qaeda founder.

But revelations in The Sunday Times that the prince’s charity accepted money from the family of the man behind the worst terror attack in history raise further questions about his judgment and his charities’ fundraising activities.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the 9/11 attacks, including 67 Britons.

Charles, whose judgment is once again in question, is pictured at the Sandringham Flower Show

It comes just weeks after it emerged Charles accepted more than £2.5m in cash from the former Qatari prime minister – stuffing some into carrier bags and a Fortnum & Mason suitcase.

Osama bin Laden's half-brother Bakr came to Clarence House for a meeting in 2013

Osama bin Laden’s half-brother Bakr came to Clarence House for a meeting in 2013

Bakr and Shafiq were linked to Bin Laden through their billionaire father, Mohammed bin Awad Bin Laden, founder of the BinLadin Group, a major construction company in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Bin Laden is said to have around 50 siblings, and his family disowned him decades ago. There is no suggestion that Bakr or Shafiq have sponsored or been involved in terrorism.

Bakr took over the family and its business in the late 1980s, but soon after, the Saudi government expelled Bin Laden and stripped him of his citizenship after he criticized the Saudi royal family.

Bakr then removed him as a shareholder in the family businesses, and in 1991 Bin Laden went into exile, living in Sudan and then Afghanistan, where he planned the 9/11 attacks.

Prince Charles was reportedly introduced to Bakr in June 2001 by Prince Khalid Al-Faisal Al-Saud, the Saudi king. Four months later, on October 13, 2001 – four weeks after the attack on the Twin Towers – the Prince of Wales dined with Bakro at Highgrove, his home in Gloucestershire, to discuss the Islamic faith. Charles is a patron of the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, where the Bin Laden family funds a scholarship program.

An official court circular reveals the couple met again at Clarence House on October 30, 2013. The Sunday Times claims Charles ‘brokered’ the £1million payment after that meeting – a claim royal sources dispute.

Slain Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs in 2011

Slain Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was killed by US Navy SEALs in 2011

The paper claimed that several of Charles’ advisers, including at least one confidant, had personally asked him to return the money, warning that he would suffer serious reputational damage if he was associated with the Bin Laden family’s money.

It is claimed that she and the prince were ‘very loud’ but were ‘screamed’. Those close to Charles also dispute these accounts.

One source reportedly said: “The fact that a member of the highest level of the British establishment chose to intervene in deals with name and family has not only rung alarm bells, it has caused consternation around the world… why would he do that?” I just didn’t think any member of the British Royal Family should be involved in such an undertaking.’

The Mail on Sunday has learned that the Foreign Office has been consulted about the PWCF accepting money from the Bin Laden family and given the go-ahead.

Insiders say the charity’s five trustees carefully considered whether to accept the money and ultimately decided to do so because Bin Laden’s horrific actions should not tarnish his family.

Insiders claim the trustees agreed not to tarnish the charity's name if they accepted Bakro's cash

Insiders claim the trustees agreed not to tarnish the charity’s name if they accepted Bakro’s cash

Chairman Sir Ian Cheshire said the decision to accept the donation was made by five trustees.

At the time they were Dame Amelia Fawcett, the financier who presides over Kew Gardens; Sir Michael Rake, former chairman of BT, John Varley, former chief executive of Barclays, William Nye, then Charles’s chief private secretary and Kenneth Wilson, an academic.

Sir Ian said: ‘Sheikh Bakr Bin Laden’s donation in 2013 was carefully considered by the PWCF trustees at the time.

‘Diligence was carried out, with information sought from a number of sources, including the government. The decision to accept the donation was made entirely by the trustees. Any attempt to suggest otherwise is misleading and inaccurate.”

A spokeswoman for Clarence House said: “The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Trust [the PWCF’s trading name] assured us that due diligence was done in accepting this donation. The admission decision was made solely by the charity’s trustees and any attempt to characterize it otherwise is false.’

Royal biographer Angela Levin last night warned the revelations were a “serious” blow to Charles, adding that Bin Laden was still “a really painful name to hear”.

“It’s a real shame that there is another allegation against his judgment – that he made another bad judgement,” she said.

It’s serious for him because there is so much chaos in the family right now, people are mean and accusing.

Royal expert Angela Levin said the claims to Charles

Royal expert Angela Levin said the claims had “seriously” hit Charles (pictured yesterday)

Especially considering that the queen is at her age, he is very close to taking over and becoming king. It leaves a stain. It’s not just about getting money, obviously it’s about thinking about the impression it leaves.”

The payment marks the second fundraising scandal to hit Charles and PWCF in as many months.

Last month it emerged that the prince was said to have personally received £860,000 stuffed into carrier bags from department store Fortnum & Mason from Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani.

It was one of three cash payments totaling £2.58m made between 2011 and 2015.

The Charity Commission has ruled out investigating the donations, but royal sources have stressed that no such donations will now happen.

In a separate controversy, The Mail on Sunday revealed last September that Charles’s closest confidant Michael Fawcett had offered to help the Saudi billionaire gain a knighthood and British citizenship in exchange for cash donations.

The Charity Commission has ruled out investigating the donations, but royal sources have stressed that no such donations will now happen.  Pictured is Osama bin Laden

The Charity Commission has ruled out investigating the donations, but royal sources have stressed that no such donations will now happen. Pictured is Osama bin Laden

Clarence House said the prince had “no knowledge” of the alleged honorarium scandal.

The latest news will put the spotlight on those charged with advising Charles on sensitive financial matters. “It’s up to his aides whether they brought it to his attention and advised him that he might be getting that £1m from someone else,” Ms Levin said.

“He has to be very careful not to put himself in a position where he is innocent but the impression is very negative.”

The Prince of Wales gained notoriety in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s for his prominent speeches glorifying Islam.

The Bin Laden family has been labeled the Rockefellers of Saudi Arabia for their infrastructure projects and have reaped enormous wealth from their closeness to the Saudi royal family. On September 19, 2001, 13 members of the family left the United States along with other Saudis.

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