Prince Andrew says he stayed with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein because he was ‘too honourable’

Duke of York should face questions under oath, says accuser’s lawyer 

Chris Baynes
Saturday 16 November 2019 11:27 GMT
Prince Andrew: I stayed at convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein's house because I am 'too honorable'

Prince Andrew has claimed he stayed at Jeffrey Epstein’s home after the billionaire was convicted of child sex offences because he was “too honourable”.

The Duke of York said the paedophile’s Manhattan mansion was “a convenient place to stay” but admitted maintaining his relationship with the late American financier was “the wrong thing to do”.

Publicly answering questions about his links to Epstein for the first time, the prince told the BBC’s Newsnight he “let the side down” by remaining friends with the shamed hedge fund manager after he was jailed for soliciting sex with a minor.

He insisted he had no memory of meeting Virginia Giuffre, a woman who alleges she was coerced by Epstein into having sex with the duke when she was 17.

But Ms Giuffre’s lawyer called for Prince Andrew to “submit to an interview under oath with the investigating authorities”.

“Talking to the media doesn’t quite cut it. Statements that are not under oath carry little weight,” said Jack Scarola.

Ms Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, is one of 16 women to have alleged they were abused by Epstein, who was found dead in his prison cell in New York earlier this year as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.

She has claimed she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew three times between 1999 and 2002 in London, in New York and during an "orgy" on Epstein’s private Caribbean island.

Asked by Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis to respond to the allegations, Prince Andrew said: “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

The interview, which will be broadcast on BBC Two on Saturday night, follows months of growing questions over the duke's relationship with Epstein. The pair were pictured walking in New York’s Central Park in 2010, two years after the financier’s conviction, and the prince stayed at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion around the same time.

Prince Andrew said: “That’s the bit that … as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the Royal Family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.”

In October, investigators from Channel 4’s Dispatches programme established the royal met Epstein at least 10 times, sometimes staying with him for several days.

Challenged on his decision to stay at the house of a convicted sex offender, the duke told Newsnight: “It was a convenient place to stay.

“I mean, I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do.

“But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.”

Emily Maitlis said her interview with Prince Andrew would be "no holds barred"
Emily Maitlis said her interview with Prince Andrew would be "no holds barred" (PA)

Ms Giuffre's allegations against Prince Andrew were struck from US civil court records in 2015 after a judge said they were "immaterial and impertinent".

Buckingham Palace has branded the claims "false and without any foundation" and said "any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors" by the duke was "categorically untrue".

The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, also defended her ex-husband on Friday.

Writing on Twitter as details of the Newsnight interview made headlines, she said: "Andrew is a true and real gentleman and is stoically steadfast to not only his duty, but also his kindness and goodness."

Ms Maitlis described the interview as "no-holds-barred" and said Buckingham Palace had not vetted questions in advance.

In 2015, Prince Andrew used a public appearance at Davos in Switzerland to deny Ms Giuffre's allegations. But he has never previously faced public questioning about the claims, relying instead on Buckingham Palace statements in attempts to address the scandal.

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