Prince Charles is reeling from revelations about his charity accepting a large sum of money from a controversial Russian banker, as well as a ‘cash for access’ scheme that reportedly allowed individuals to pay £100,000 to secure dinner with the heir to the throne.
Separately from these, I can reveal the Prince’s Foundation also accepted a donation from a Latvian businessman with a criminal record. He is Valeri Belokon, the former co-owner of Blackpool FC convicted of money laundering.
The 61-year-old father-of-three was a director of the Prince’s Foundation for Building Community between 2010 and 2013, during which time he was officially listed as a ‘Trustee to the Prince’s Foundation’.
A spokesperson for the Prince’s Foundation, which does not discuss individual donations, declines to say how much Belokon, far left, donated or why they accepted his donation
He was appointed to the board the year before he faced allegations of a multi-million-pound money laundering scheme that resulted in his Manas Bank becoming one of five taken over by the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan.
Belokon, an associate of former U.S. president Donald Trump, denied the claims, but the Paris Court of Appeal delivered a damning judgment that he had bought his bank ‘in order to develop . . . money-laundering practices’.
In response, Belokon argued that the criminal conviction against him and the 20-year jail sentence in Kyrgyzstan was politically motivated and based on ‘ungrounded accusations’ and ‘fabricated evidence’.
Prince of Wales with Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, during a meeting at his Welsh home in Myddfai, Wales
The conviction was not implemented because Belokon refused to attend the court hearings.
At the weekend it was reported that the Prince’s Foundation returned a donation from Dmitry Leus, a Russian banker who cited a substantial donation during a process of lobbying the Home Office for full UK residency.
A spokesperson for the Prince’s Foundation, which does not discuss individual donations, declines to say how much Belokon donated or why they accepted his donation and retained him as a trustee at the same time that his criminal proceedings started in January 2011.
The conviction did, however, result in Belokon’s suspension from the board of Blackpool FC because he was — according to the English Football League — ‘not a fit and proper person’ to hold such a position.
Bragg’s back on the trail of the real working class
High-brow broadcaster Melvyn Bragg wants to hit the road, aged 81, to put the ‘working class’ back under the microscope.
The Labour peer, who grew up above a pub in Cumbria, has revealed his plans after deeming his BBC documentary about class and culture ten years ago inadequate.
‘It wasn’t good enough. Something was going on — people were identifying themselves in this country as much by their culture as by their class, as much by the pop group they liked as by “I am a working-class person”.
‘The great bedrock of the working class in this country [has] dissolved and it’s up for grabs.’
He now wants to revisit the subject, and adds: ‘I should just get on my bike and talk to a lot of people in back terraces in Sheffield and find out what’s really going on.’
By George, Harry’s poet has gone and got hitched
The 30-year-old from North-West London tied the knot in Buckinghamshire on Saturday with his business manager and long-term girlfriend, Sandra Makumbi, 28
Prince Harry with George the Poet, who opened the BBC coverage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding with a poem recital
He opened the BBC coverage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding with a poem recital, and now rapper George Mpanga — aka ‘George the Poet’ — has got a happy ending of his own.
The 30-year-old from North-West London tied the knot in Buckinghamshire on Saturday with his business manager and long-term girlfriend, Sandra Makumbi, 28.
The bride, who wore a Monique Lhuillier gown, tells me: ‘It was the best day. George read a poem about the proposal at the reception. I cried. I was crying from happiness all day.’
After he got down on bended knee last year, George, who is studying for a PhD in economics at UCL, was congratulated by Meghan.
Were the royal couple invited to their nuptials? ‘We won’t comment on our friends,’ Sandra adds.
Best-selling novelist Anthony Horowitz does not lack ways to pass the time when he takes a writing break.
‘I have a collection of tiny toys which lower their trousers if you turn a handle,’ says the author of the Alex Rider series.
‘I also love doing cryptic crosswords. And I do magic tricks and coin tricks, and that makes me smile.’ What a card!
Sir Mick Jagger’s less famous brother, Chris, could do with using the Rolling Stones’ private plane. The blues musician, 73, is furious that he had to cancel a gig in Mallorca because easyJet wouldn’t let him board with his accoutrements.
‘They are refusing to carry any musical instruments, including violins, in overheard lockers,’ he says. ‘I have been taking guitars on planes for 50 years, and small ones in soft cases fit fine.’
Elton’s band hits the robe again
Even when he’s dressing down, he’s dressing up! Sir Elton John, 74, reveals he and his family wear matching £375 Versace gold-monogrammed robes at home
The musician, worth £375 million, was gifted the garments by designer Donatella Versace, whom he thanked for her ‘generosity and kindness’
Even when he’s dressing down, he’s dressing up! Sir Elton John, 74, reveals he and his family wear matching £375 Versace gold-monogrammed robes at home.
He shared a picture of himself with his husband, David Furnish, 58, and their sons, Zachary and Elijah, on the balcony of his £15 million house in the South of France.
The musician, worth £375 million, was gifted the garments by designer Donatella Versace, whom he thanked for her ‘generosity and kindness’.
Jennifer Saunders’ husband Ade Edmondson knows that flattery goes a long way. The actor admits he got a role in the new series of the BBC dark comedy, Back To Life — which starts tonight — after sucking up to its lead actress, Daisy Haggard.
‘I wrote her a fan letter,’ says former EastEnders star Ade, 64. ‘She replied by giving me a part in series two. The character is a very unpleasant bully. Not sure what she’s trying to say . . .’
Former Strictly star Anneka Rice can’t stand the term ‘wild swimming’ for the trend loved by illustrious splashers David Cameron, Ed Sheeran and the Beckhams.
‘Swimming is such a glorious thing. I just get tired of people calling it “wild swimming”,’ says the TV presenter, 62.
‘It’s going for a swim! ‘Fair enough if you were in Alaska — I think you could call that wild swimming; but if you’re going for a swim in the sea or the river, that’s just going for a swim. ‘We use adjectives a bit freely these days.’
Off with your phones, says Queen Imelda
The 65-year-old, who will play the Queen in the fifth season of the royal drama, alongside Dominic West and Lesley Manville, is annoyed by co-stars constantly checking their mobile phones on set
The Crown cast had better mind their manners while filming scenes of the new series with Imelda Staunton.
The 65-year-old, who will play the Queen in the fifth season of the royal drama, alongside Dominic West and Lesley Manville, is annoyed by co-stars constantly checking their mobile phones on set.
‘I do wonder, why can’t you just be “here” today? This is your job. There is nothing more important than this moment now,’ she fumes. ‘Fine in the coffee breaks, but not now.’
Diplomatically, she declines to name names.