Ministers' support ebbs for Duke of York

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Indy Politics

Prince Andrew appeared to be losing the confidence of the Government in his role as trade ambassador, as reports emerged yesterday of ministers – including the Business Secretary Vince Cable – refusing to give him their backing.

The Duke of York's position has been called into question because of his friendship with an American businessman who is a convicted paedophile. The billionaire US financier Jeffrey Epstein was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution.

Earlier yesterday, the Foreign Secretary William Hague told BBC News he had "full confidence" in the Prince's work. "I've seen a lot of benefits that he has brought in countries that I have visited, where he's been performing that role," Mr Hague said. The Duke's private secretary, Alastair Watson, wrote to The Times on Saturday to say the "insinuations and innuendos that have been made in relation to the Duke are without foundation".