IF PRINCE Andrew’s alleged sexual shenanigans with an underage American girl take some beating for digging himself a hole, former government minister Norman Baker thinks he has managed it.
For the one-time Liberal Democrat MP told Russia Today’s Sputnik Orbiting programme that the Prince probably has more to fear from revelations about his financial dealings.
And in his informative book on the Royals And What Do You Do, he raises a number of questions over the Prince he describes as ‘the Grand Old Duke of sleaze’ particularly during his time as a so-called Special Representative for Trade and Investment for Britain.
In short, it’s an unwholesome tale of lavish spending, clashes of interests and dodgy company that leads Baker to question the source of Andrew’s ‘hidden wealth’.
Baker quotes one former aide as describing Andrew’s approach to the role as ‘the worst combination of arrogance and stupidity’
Baker adds that hidden in thousands of Wikileaks files is one from Tatiana Gfoeller, the American ambassador to Krygyzstan in 2008.
This recounted a lunch addressed by Andrew in which he slagged off France as corrupt and the Americans ‘don’t understand geography’
More worryingly, he attacked the Serious Fraud Office who had been investigating bribery allegations relating to a deal between the BAE and Saudi Arabia.
Before leaving Britain, Andrew had demanded a special briefing from the Serious Fraud Office on the same investigation, which was described by officials as being ‘well out of order’
Simon Wilson, deputy head of mission in Bahrain between 2001 and 2005 where Andrew was a regular visitor, reported that Andrew was referred to among the diplomatic community in the Gulf as HBH – His Buffoon Highness.
He added: ‘The style in which I observed him carrying it (the role) out beggared belief. He travelled with a team of six …..There was also a 6ft long ironing board that he insisted went everywhere he went. It was hilarious to witness the valet struggling off the plane with it and placing the precious object carefully into the minibus’.
Between 2001 and 2008 Andrew officially visited the United Arab Emirates nine times, Qatar five times and Egypt, Bahrain and Kuwait four times each as well as going to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and Oman,
Baker posed a parliamentary question asking for details of any contracts that had been gained the previous year as a result of a visit by the Duke of York. No such information was forthcoming.
This wasn’t surprising as Andrew combined business with pleasure. Once he arrived in Qatar four days after setting off because he stopped off in Azerbaijan, noted as one of the most corrupt countries on the globe.
It turned out he had visited the same country eight times, twice in a private capacity, and one visit in 2009 by private jet landed the taxpayer a £60,000 bill.
Of more concern was his links with Kazakhstan where he developed a friendship with the son-in-law of the president Timur Kalibayev.
This became shrouded in mystery when Andrew sold Sunninghill Park, the country house given to him and Sarah as a wedding present.
There had been little interest in the property since it had first marketed in 2002 but neither that nor the highly prohibitive £12m asking price deterred Kalibayev who bought it for £15m only to then have it demolished.
Andrew’s colourful connections also included by being hosted in Jeddah by a Saudi conglomerate founded by the father of Osama Bin Laden.
Perhaps most worrying of all was Tarek Kaituni, a convicted Libyan gunrunner, whom Andrew went on holiday with to Tunisia before going on to Libya.
Andrew accepted a ‘private gift’ of an £18,000 bracelet for his daughter Beatrice
He also met Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi more than once and his son on several occasions. It was well documented that he had a five-day stay there in November2007.
Andrew’s dodgy business ways were again highlight when Fergie was trapped by the News of the World’s false sheikh offering access to the Prince for him to open business doors at a cost of £500,000.
Somehow on an annual income of a £249,000 tax free sum from his mother, plus a £20,000 navy pension, Andrew was able to finance a £13m ski chalet in Switzerland in 2014 as well as spend £7.5m refurbishing Windsor Lodge, his home in Windsor Great Park.