Prince Andrew's daughter 'was given necklace by Libyan businessman'

Allegation of birthday gift for Beatrice piles further pressure on Prince Andrew over his work as special trade representative

Prince Andrew is under further pressure over his work as Britain's special trade representative after it was alleged that a Libyan businessman gave his daughter Princess Beatrice a diamond necklace for her 21st birthday two years ago.

The businessman, Tarek Kaituni, who is now a US citizen, has convictions for possession of drugs – for which he served a prison sentence in 1998 – and attempting to smuggle a sub-machine gun into France.

He was a guest at Beatrice's birthday party at a private villa near Marbella, during which he was photographed with the prince sitting at the same table. Kaituni's former girlfriend Manel Hamrouni, who was pictured sitting next to the prince, claimed to the Sunday Times that the prince had lobbied for the businessman to be given a consultancy with the British water treatment company Biwater and paid commission for helping to secure business in Libya.

The prince's spokesman denied that he had ever acted on Kaituni's behalf, received personal gifts or solicited payments for him. He described Andrew and Kaituni as "certainly associates".

Asked whether the princess had been given a diamond necklace, he replied: "We never comment on any gifts given to members of the royal family."

The prince's association with Kaituni is the latest to discomfort the royal family and ministers concerned about how he has used his role as a trade envoy over the last 10 years. Earlier this month revelations about his friendship with the US billionaire and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein caused Andrew to admit he had been unwise and government sources to suggest he might have to consider his position if more negative stories emerged.

When the Labour MP Chris Bryant attempted to raise the prince's connection with Kaituni in the Commons three weeks ago he was censured by the Speaker, John Bercow, who told him that references to the royal family under parliamentary privilege should be "sparing and respectful".

The value of the diamond necklace is the subject of differing estimates, with Hamrouni claiming it was worth nearly £20,000. A British jeweller related to the person who sold it said Kaituni had bought it for £4,000 and Kaituni himself told the paper he had chipped in with others to help buy it.

Biwater acknowledged that Kaituni had approached them in 2009 but said it had made no agreement with him, had not paid him anything and had severed connections in 2010.


Stephen Bates

The GuardianTramp

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