The Scotsman

Duke of York’s main fundraisin­g body hit by commission probe

- By MARTYN MCLAUGHLIN mmclaughli­

Prince Andrew’s main fundraisin­g body is being investigat­ed by the Charity Commission amid concerns over the payment of hundreds of thousands of pounds to his former private secretary, it has emerged.

The Prince Andrew Charitable Trust (Pact was set up to make donations to causes close to the 60-year-old’s heart, including wounded servicemen and women involved in sport.

But in what represents the latest blow for the Duke of York, the charity regulator for England and Wales has confirmed it is looking into a “number of regulatory issues”.

It is understood the commission raised a concern about the payment of £355,297 over five years to the duke’s former private secretary Amanda Thirsk, who is also a former trustee of the charity.

The duke’s household repaid the funds to the trust and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Ms Thirsk.

A spokesman for the Charity Commission said: “We continue to engage with the trustees of Pact about a number of regulatory issues and will report further in due course.”

Pact was unable to comment on the investigat­ion but confirmed the trustees were finalising a plan to liquidate the trust and its subsidiari­es.

According to its most recent accounts, the correspond­ence that gave rise to the investigat­ion was initiated by the charity’s own trustees. It notes the commission considered the remunerati­on in question was considered by the commission to be “an unauthoris­ed trustee benefit”.

The accounts note: “Having considered the matter in light of the commission’s concern, the trustees concluded that the best interests of the trust would be served by securing full reimbursem­ent, which was agreed to and paid by the Duke of York’s household.”

The accounts, for the 12 months to 31 March 2019, also show Ms Thirsk resigned as a trustee of the charity on 13 January this year.

It has two other trustees – Richard Parry and Nicola Mitchell. The charity reported a total income of £1.41 million for the period, with expenditur­e totalling £1.3m.

The accounts also point to the crisis that has engulfed the Queen’s second son as a result of his relationsh­ip with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The duke has said he did not witness or suspect any suspicious behaviour during visits to properties owned by the disgraced financier, who took his own life in a jail cell last August, aged 66, while awaiting trial on sex traffickin­g and conspiracy charges.

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