Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

BBC admits interview with Epstein’s former lawyer over Maxwell trial was not suitable

Broadcaster said interview ‘did not meet BBC’s editorial standards’

Celine Wadhera
Thursday 30 December 2021 16:32 GMT
Ghislaine Maxwell trial 'weakens case against Prince Andrew' says Alan Dershowitz

The BBC has said that its interview with Jeffrey Epstein’s former lawyer Alan Dershowitz, that aired shortly after Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty of sex trafficking, was “not suitable” and that it is investigating the issue.

Mr Dershowitz, 83, previously acted as a lawyer for the late, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, and was among the men that Virginia Giuffre alleged Maxwell and Epstein forced her to have sex with when she was a minor.

Ms Giuffre has also accused the Duke of York of sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager and is currently suing him in a civil case in New York’s Southern District Court. Prince Andrew has denied the claims.

Minutes after Maxwell was found guilty on five federal charges – including sex trafficking of minors – Mr Dershowitz, introduced on BBC News as a “constitutional lawyer”, was invited to comment on the trial.

His lack of impartiality was not made clear during the interview, and as such, the BBC has said it is investigating to determine how the interview ended up taking place.

In the controversial interview, Mr Dershowitz said: “The most important thing for British viewers is that the government was very careful who it used as witnesses.

“It did not use as a witness the woman who accused Prince Andrew, who accused me, who accused many other people, because the government didn’t believe she was telling the truth.

“In fact, she, Virginia Giuffre, was mentioned in the trial as somebody who brought young people to Epstein for him to abuse, so this case does nothing to strengthen the case against Prince Andrew, indeed it weakens the case against Prince Andrew considerably because the government was very selective in who it used.”

He added: “It used only witnesses who they believed were credible and it deliberately didn’t use the main witness, the woman who started the whole investigation – Virginia Giuffre – because ultimately, they didn’t believe she was telling the truth and they didn’t believe a jury would believe her and they were right in doing so, so it was very smart on the part of the government.”

Following the broadcast, many viewers complained that Mr Dershowitz had only been introduced as a “constitutional lawyer” and no mention was made regarding his links to people involved in the case. Complaints were also made about the way that Mr Dershowitz used the airtime to defend himself and Prince Andrew against Ms Giuffre’s allegations.

On Thursday, BBC News issued a statement saying that the interview had not been suitable as it did not meet the broadcaster’s editorial standards.

“Last night’s interview with Alan Dershowitz after the Ghislaine Maxwell verdict did not meet the BBC’s editorial standards, as Mr Dershowitz was not a suitable person to interview as an impartial analyst, and we did not make the relevant background clear to our audience,” it said.

It added: “We will look into how this happened”.

Mr Dershowitz is a high-profile criminal defence lawyers in the US, and has been known to work with controversial clients including former president Donald Trump and former film producer and convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein.

Ms Giuffre’s civil case against Prince Andrew is set to begin with an initial hearing on 4 January 2022. The royal and Mr Dershowitz have both denied Ms Giuffre’s claims.

Epstein killed himself while awaiting trial in 2019.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in