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The Tory donor at the centre of a “cash for access” row has said he is sorry that the Prince of Wales has been dragged into the political fracas.
Mohamed Amersi, 61, a telecoms tycoon, told The Telegraph on Monday he was “highly regretful” that the senior royal had become engulfed in bitter “blue on blue” infighting in the Conservative Party.
Sources had let it be known that the Prince was aggrieved at becoming “collateral damage” in the dispute, which also involved Ben Elliot, 45, who is Tory party co-chairman and the Duchess of Cornwall’s nephew.
Over the weekend, Mr Amersi lashed out at Mr Elliot, who is also a founder of the luxury concierge firm Quintessentially.
Mr Amersi had been an “elite” tier member of Quintessentially, for which he paid an annual £15,000 fee, for several years before the company organised for him to meet the Prince of Wales over dinner at Dumfries House in Scotland in 2013, The Sunday Times revealed.
The telecoms multi-millionaire described the arrangement to that newspaper as “access capitalism”.
After the candle-lit dinner with the Prince, Mr Amersi went on to donate £1.2 million to his charities.
On Monday, the donor was understood to have written to the Prince expressing his dismay that the heir to the throne has been publicly drawn into the row.
Mr Amersi insisted he had “done nothing wrong”, but added: “I highly regret that Prince Charles has been involved in this.”
The tycoon added that he would “love to” continue working with the Prince’s charities and praised his leadership on good causes.
It also emerged on Monday that the luxury concierge company wrote to clients advising them of the availability of PCR tests costing £295 from a private healthcare company Qured. It was also promoting antibody tests for £139.
Mr Elliot was at the time co-chairman of the Tory Party, having been appointed by Boris Johnson, his close friend, in July 2019.
In an email exchange with Mr Amersi, a Quintessentially lifestyle manager explained the various testing options offered by Qured, writing: “Thought that you might be interested in the below.”
The document said that “Qured Covid-19 testing is carried out by UKAS [United Kingdom Accreditation Service] certified labs who are also carrying out testing for the NHS”, although it insisted that “the testing carried [out] for Qured customers is not taking away any capacity for NHS testing”.
On the day that the email was sent on April 21 last year, the NHS carried out 22,763 PCR tests. Testing capacity was later ramped up and the NHS can now carry out hundreds of thousands on a daily basis.
The Times reported that the tests were arranged by Quintessentially “on purely a reactive basis” for about 20 clients.
Amanda Milling, the other co-chairman of the Tory party, insisted that Government policy “is in no way influenced by the donations the party receiveds – they are entirely separate”, amid fresh concerns over “sleaze” from Labour.
A spokesman for Mr Elliot said: “Mr Elliot assisted Mr Amersi in meeting the Prince of Wales because he wanted to support the Prince’s charitable work, and Mr Elliot is proud that led to large donations from Mr Amersi to good causes. This was entirely about helping to raise money for charity.”