EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: 'Cash for honours' fixer to quit Duke of Kent club
EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: ‘Cash for honours’ fixer forced to quit Duke of Kent’s club
He’s the society fixer at the heart of the troubling episode which saw Prince Charles’s right-hand man, Michael Fawcett, resign as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation, whose affairs have become the subject of a Metropolitan Police ‘cash for honours’ investigation.
Now, in a sign that the ground may be crumbling beneath him, I can disclose that Michael Wynne-Parker, who had repeated dealings with Fawcett, has resigned from the Cavalry & Guards Club, of which he had been a member for many years.
Indeed, I understand that he did so in circumstances which left him little option other than to ‘do the decent thing’ and go.
He’s the society fixer at the heart of the troubling episode which saw Prince Charles’s right-hand man, Michael Fawcett, resign as chief executive of The Prince’s Foundation, whose affairs have become the subject of a Metropolitan Police ‘cash for honours’ investigation
Rarely lost for words, Wynne-Parker, 76, is uncharacteristically taciturn when I call him. ‘I just resigned, and that’s it,’ he tells me.
But, it seems, there is rather more to it than that, as Wynne-Parker acknowledges when I suggest that he was, in fact, asked to resign by the club’s hierarchy.
‘You could put it like that,’ he agrees. ‘It was the former Secretary, David Cowdery, who did it.’
Neither Cowdery, who retired this month, nor his successor, nor indeed anyone else at the club, cares to comment on Wynne-Parker’s departure.
But I’m told that the Cavalry & Guards, which has intimate ties with the Duke of Kent, its president, and the Duchess of Cornwall, its Lady Patron, has not enjoyed the blizzard of headlines about Wynne-Parker and his pivotal role in the ‘cash for honours’ affair which threatens to imperil the Prince of Wales’s reputation.
With Fawcett and William Bortrick, owner of society stud book Burke’s Peerage, Wynne-Parker discussed how best to secure an honour for Saudi tycoon Mahfouz bin Mahfouz.
I’m told that the Cavalry & Guards, which has intimate ties with the Duke of Kent, its president, pictured above, and the Duchess of Cornwall, its Lady Patron, has not enjoyed the blizzard of headlines about Wynne-Parker and his pivotal role in the ‘cash for honours’ affair which threatens to imperil the Prince of Wales’s reputation
Those discussions led to Mahfouz, who had already received a CBE —conferred on him by the heir to the throne for ‘services to charities in the UK’ — donating more than £1.5 million to The Prince’s Foundation. No knighthood was forthcoming and Charles has made it plain that he was entirely unaware of Fawcett’s suggestion that it might be.
The club’s more orthodox members are unlikely to miss Wynne-Parker, a robust figure of insistent charm who was a friend of the late, thrice- married 6th Marquess of Bristol — jailed for theft and burglary — and who has also been a long-standing business ally of Prince Michael of Kent.
But others regret his departure. ‘I saw him a while ago with a stunning young woman in a fabulously short skirt,’ one tells me. ‘Must have been one of his goddaughters.’
Countdown’s former host, Nick Hewer, is finding retirement with his long-term girlfriend, Catherine, too much like hard work.
‘The trouble is actually that she is making me do things like empty the dishwasher, or even put the dishwasher on — this is all a bit of a mystery,’ he wails. ‘So I try to keep away and not get under her feet, otherwise I’ll be asked.
There is a list of things to do. She’ll say, ‘I’m very surprised you haven’t taken the dog for a walk yet’. She is a bit of a controller. She runs a very tight ship and she’s brilliant at running a home. The trouble is she is now delegating some of the bloody work to me.’
Widowed cricket star Strauss courts new love at Wimbledon
Sir Andrew Strauss was left a single father of two young sons when his beloved wife died from a rare form of lung cancer in 2018 at the age of 46.
In her memory, he set up the Ruth Strauss Foundation, which funds cancer research.
Now, the former England cricket captain, 45, has found love again and took his new girlfriend to Wimbledon. He could be seen by fellow Centre Court spectators tenderly stroking her hair. His spokesman declines to confirm the identity of his companion.
After his wife died, he said: ‘Now my motivation for doing things is different and my focus has switched from achievement to fulfilment.’
Sir Andrew Strauss was left a single father of two young sons when his beloved wife died from a rare form of lung cancer in 2018 at the age of 46
(Very) modern manners
Wellness advocates believe bonding with pets is good for our wellbeing. But Emily Ratajkowski is, perhaps, taking things a little too far.
The London-born model and actress, 31, has shared this snap of her imitating her pooch Colombo.
‘Baby boy bumbi,’ trills Emily, who’s married to film producer Sebastian Bear-McClard, 34. Barking!
MP Seely’s romance with young comic ends in tears
When I disclosed in January that Bob Seely’s much younger girlfriend, Iona Stewart-Richardson, had become a stand-up comic, the Tory MP described her as ‘the funniest woman I know’.
He may be less of a fan of her new material.
For I hear the Old Harrovian, 56, has broken up with willowy Iona, 29. And the split sounds highly acrimonious.
‘Bob and I parted ways for the best and for a number of reasons,’ Iona tells me.
‘Sadly, I am not able to be his friend.’ She suggests he already has a new love in his life, adding: ‘I wish him the best of luck with his new relationship.’
I hear the Old Harrovian, 56, has broken up with willowy Iona, 29. And the split sounds highly acrimonious
Iona, who claims to be distantly related to Scottish nobility, caught Seely’s fancy after moving to his Isle of Wight constituency about three years ago when she worked as a news reporter.
Iona refers to Seely as her ‘old man friend’ throughout her stand-up comedy set, confiding: ‘I had to go to one of these chamber of commerce events. On my way in, an old man immediately smacked me on the a**e.
‘The second thing was a woman went up to my man and said, ‘Oh, it’s so wonderful what you’re doing for the business community’, took one look at me and went, ‘You must be so proud of your father.’ ‘
‘Bob and I parted ways for the best and for a number of reasons,’ Iona tells me. ‘Sadly, I am not able to be his friend.’ She suggests he already has a new love in his life, adding: ‘I wish him the best of luck with his new relationship
People forget that Wimbledon is played at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, and Dame Mary Berry has developed a passion for the lesser known of its two games.
‘We’ve recently started having croquet lessons,’ says Dame Mary, 87, who watched the tennis at Wimbledon this week with her 90-year-old husband, Paul Hunnings.
She says: ‘Although Paul is better than me, I can’t tell you what pleasure it gives me to have these lessons once a week.’
Damian and old pal Nadja party in park
Good to see Damian Lewis smiling again.
The Eton-educated actor, 51, was joined by businesswoman Nadja Swarovski, 52, of the Austrian crystal dynasty
The Homeland star, who tragically lost his actress wife Helen McCrory to cancer last year at the age of 52, posed for pictures in a pair of sunglasses and a grey, tweed jacket at a party in London’s Kensington Gardens.
The Eton-educated actor, 51, was joined by businesswoman Nadja Swarovski, 52, of the Austrian crystal dynasty. The mother-of-three, who is married to hedge fund manager Rupert Adams, stepped down from her role on the Swarovski board last year. She’s known Lewis since 2013, when she made her first foray into the film world in Julian Fellowes’s Romeo & Juliet.
The Downton Abbey creator is a family friend and approached Nadja for investors, which led to Swarovski providing jewellery for the costumes in the film, which starred Lewis as Juliet’s father.
Lewis has two teenage children with McCrory, who was best known for her roles as Narcissa Malfoy in three Harry Potter films.
Steph: Not enough glam lesbians on TV
TV star Steph McGovern, who’s known for her love of make-up, high heels and bright, short dresses, says she didn’t relate to lesbian fellow presenters who blazed a trail before her as they didn’t look as feminine as she does.
‘On telly and stuff [growing up] it didn’t really feel like there were many gay women who looked like me because I’m quite girly and love my hair and make-up,’ says the Steph’s Packed Lunch host and ex-BBC Breakfast business correspondent, 40.
‘Of course I love people like Sue Perkins and Clare Balding and Sandi Toksvig, but I didn’t really feel like them.
‘They’re amazing, and I guess they are role models for gay women, but they’re older than me and I didn’t feel like they represented me.’
Sir Geoffrey Cox seems to have reconciled himself to a less exalted parliamentary career since being sacked as Attorney General two years ago — consoled, presumably, by the staggering fees he pulls in from his extracurricular work as a barrister.
After trousering close to £1 million last year — over and above his MP’s salary of £84,144, that is — Cox, 62, has just raked in another £120,000 for 106 hours’ work, as he records in the latest Register of Members’ Financial Interests.
It amounts to £1,132 an hour — a sum which would take a fledgling lawyer working in the magistrates’ courts 23 days to earn. Perhaps Sir Geoffrey —knighted after his dismissal fall from the Cabinet — should spare an hour or two to investigate what a fair fee would be for the junior barristers who went on strike this week.
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