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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Prince of Wales' charity under investigation

The controversy over the Prince of Wales using his position to influence planning decisions took a new turn today with confirmation that the Charity Commission has asked the Prince’s Foundation for the Built Environment to explain its relationship with the heir to the throne.

Their investigation is prompted by concerns that the charity has gone beyond its remit as a registered charity and tried to influence a number of planning decisions and a complaint that it is acting as his “private lobby firm”:

The Prince has already clashed with the architect Lord Rogers of Riverside, who said that the Prince’s controversial intervention in the Chelsea Barracks project had created a “dangerous precedent”.

Qatari Diar, the developers, withdrew their planning application for a £3 billion housing project on the site in West London after the Prince criticised Lord Rogers’ glass and steel design as “unsympathetic” and wrote to the Emir of Qatar to complain. He also asked the Qatari ruler to consider an alternative design by Quinlan Terry, a classicist whose work he favours.

When the plans were dropped in June, a spokesman for the development said that the foundation would be among the stakeholders asked to discuss any new submissions.

Lord Rogers said that the Prince had abused his power. “I think that anyone who uses his power due to birth breaks a constitutional understanding,” he said.

Hank Dittmar, the chief executive of the foundation, has denied allegations it was acting in breach of charity law. He says that although they value the Prince's input the charity makes its own decisions.
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