Prince Andrew gives BBC interview on his relationship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein
The Duke of York has spoken about his relationship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein in a “no holds barred” interview.
Andrew has faced questions about his links with the disgraced financier, who was found dead in his prison cell in New York earlier this year where he was being held on sex trafficking charges.
An accuser of Epstein claims she was forced into a sexual encounter with the duke – an allegation he denies.
Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis said on Twitter it was a “no holds barred” and “no questions vetted” interview, filmed at Buckingham Palace on Thursday.
It will be the first time the duke has answered questions on his relationship with Epstein. In 2015, he used a public appearance at Davos in Switzerland to deny the claims.
Virginia Giuffre is one of 16 women who say they were abused by Epstein, and she has previously claimed in court papers that she was forced to have sex with Andrew as a 17-year-old.
Her allegations, which Andrew denies, were struck from US civil court records in 2015 after a judge said they were “immaterial and impertinent”.
Buckingham Palace has branded the allegations “false and without any foundation” and “any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors” by the duke was “categorically untrue”.
The palace has previously contested reports about Andrew’s relationship with Epstein, including a private jet flight they are said to have shared with Mrs Giuffre, then known as Virginia Roberts.
Dogged by accusations of a lack of judgment about his links with Epstein, Andrew has previously denied he ever suspected “any behaviour of the sort” the financier.
Andrew said in a statement on August 24: “At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.”
He said he had “tremendous sympathy” for Epstein’s victims, and reiterated that it was a “mistake” seeing the 66-year-old after the American’s release from an 18-month prison term in 2010 for prostituting minors.
Epstein was found hanged in his cell on August 10 in New York while facing fresh charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to traffic minors for sex.
The interview, recorded at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, will air on BBC Two at 9pm on Saturday.
Timeline of Duke of York’s controversial relationship with Jeffrey Epstein
The Duke of York has given an interview to BBC Newsnight about his relationship with former friend Jeffrey Epstein – the first time he has answered questions on the scandal. Here is a timeline of the duke’s relationship with Epstein.
Andrew first meets Epstein, reportedly introduced through his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell.
Andrew welcomes Epstein to the Queen’s private Scottish retreat in Aberdeenshire, the Daily Mail newspaper reported.
Andrew later says he sees Epstein “infrequently”, adding “probably no more than only once or twice a year”.
Andrew and Ms Maxwell are seen on holiday with Epstein at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Epstein and Ms Maxwell attend a party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark Andrew’s 40th birthday, the Princess Royal’s 50th, the Queen Mother’s 100th and Princess Margaret’s 70th.
Virginia Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew “three times, including one orgy”, with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Ms Maxwell’s London townhouse.
Ms Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew on two more occasions, at Epstein’s New York home and at an “orgy” on his private island in the Caribbean.
Epstein admits prostituting minors and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Epstein is released from jail. Andrew is photographed with the disgraced Epstein in New York’s Central Park.
Footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on December 6 2010, showing him inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, from where he is seen looking out from a large door of the property waving a woman goodbye after Epstein leaves to get into a chauffeur-driven car.
The duke quits his role as UK trade envoy after the fallout from the Central Park photos.
Buckingham Palace denies Andrew has committed any impropriety after he is named in US court documents related to Epstein. A woman, later named in reports as Ms Roberts, alleges in papers filed in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent in the state.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Andrew, in his first public engagement since he was embroiled in the allegations, responds, saying: “Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to the events that have taken place in the last few weeks.
“I just wish to reiterate, and to reaffirm, the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.”
In April the claims against Andrew are struck from US civil court records following a federal judge’s ruling.
Newly released legal documents show that Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claimed Andrew touched her breast while sitting on a couch inside the US billionaire’s Manhattan apartment in 2001.
Buckingham Palace said the allegations are “categorically untrue”.
Epstein is found dead in his jail cell on August 10, having killed himself after being charged with sex trafficking.
Later that month a pilot on Epstein’s private jet claims Andrew was a passenger on past flights with the financier and Ms Roberts.
The Sun newspaper reported that David Rodgers said in a testimony released in August that Epstein, Andrew and the-then 17-year-old travelled to the US Virgin Islands on April 11 2001.
Buckingham Palace describes the evidence statement as having “a number of inconsistencies” and said that Andrew was on a different continent in some cases.
Following Epstein’s death, a statement from the palace says that Andrew is “appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes”.
Breaking his silence on the issue for the first time since 2015, Andrew then releases a statement on August 24 saying: “At no stage during the limited time I spent with him (Epstein) did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.”
In November, BBC Newsnight reveals the duke has spoken about his relationship with Epstein in a “no holds barred” interview.
Presenter Emily Maitlis wrote on Twitter that it was a “no questions vetted” exchange.
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