London, March 13 (Reuters): Prince Charles’ closest aide resigned today as a controversial report was published into financial and sexual misconduct in the household of Britain’s heir to the throne.
The report was the result of a four-month long internal probe into allegations involving members of Charles’ household — including a gay rape accusation and claims of interference in the collapse of the theft trial of royal butler Paul Burrell.
Charles said he welcomed the report, which clears him and his household of any deliberate wrongdoing but points out “serious failings” in their handling of events.
“The review does not make comfortable reading in some parts but I accept full responsibility and all the recommendations,” he said in a statement.
His aide Michael Fawcett — accused in the press of selling official royal gifts and taking backhanders from would-be royal suppliers — was cleared of corruption by the inquiry but said he was leaving to set up his own events management company, which would still work for the prince.
The report, by Charles’ private secretary Sir Michael Peat, painted Fawcett as an unpopular man who intimidated other staff, accepted valuable gifts and made palace enemies but who ultimately did nothing corrupt or improper.
Peat also found that a few private gifts had been sold by servants over six years — but only on the prince’s authority and mostly for charity. Fawcett had not benefited personally.
The inquiry was widely dismissed as a whitewash from the beginning with Charles criticised for appointing his own servant to head it instead of an independent investigator.
Peat dismissed such claims, saying the 100-page report was often critical of Charles and his household.