A Special Forces friend of Prince Harry is being investigated over claims of financial irregularities after a world record-breaking bike ride from Argentina to Alaska that raised at least £500,000 for mental health charities in the UK.
Ex-SBS trooper Dean Stott, 42, is being probed by charity regulators over expenses of up to £400,000 racked up as part of his 14,000-mile cycling marathon across America.
Last night, the Official Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) confirmed it had opened a formal inquiry into the charity he set up with his wife Alana.
The probe comes after Mr Stott was accused of cheating on the 99-day ride to ensure he returned to Britain in time to attend Prince Harry’s wedding.
Stott, who befriended Harry during military training 12 years ago, took 18 days off the record for riding the length of the Pan-American Highway, cycling for up to 20 hours each day.
He completed the ride last May but fell out with his support crew over the alleged use of forged paperwork at border checkpoints in South America. They also claimed he rode on more than one bike during the challenge, which is forbidden by Guinness – something Mr Stott strenuously denies.
Last August the Stotts gave a £500,000 cheque to the Heads Together charity set up by Princes Harry and William, and the couple said they were halfway towards their goal of raising £1 million.
But just three months later, in November last year, they applied for their charity PAH18 Limited to be struck off and voluntarily dissolved. This bid was blocked after regulators received objections. The Stotts did not publicise any further donations before the company was finally struck off earlier this month.
Its final accounts showed a total income of £993,029 and a total expenditure – including revenues handed over to charities – of £897,064. The OSCR is investigating claims that the project’s organisers spent excessively and used charitable funds inappropriately.
Last night, Mr Stott declined to answer The Mail on Sunday’s detailed questions about personal earnings from his charity bike ride or the expenses claimed by his company. His spokesman said: ‘PAH18 welcomes this inquiry and while there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the OSCR, PAH18 is happy to provide any information it may require. We look forward to its positive conclusion.’