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Prince Andrew: I didn’t have sex with teenager, I was at home after Pizza Express in Woking | UK news

The Duke of York claimed on Saturday night that he could not have had sex with a teenage girl in the London home of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell because he was at home after attending a children’s party at Pizza Express in Woking.

Prince Andrew gave the startling explanation in a bombshell interview with Emily Maitlis for BBC’s Newsnight in which he was grilled about his relationship with the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, who has been exposed as a paedophile.

In a sometimes rambling and contradictory account of their friendship, the prince insisted he had not had sex with any women trafficked by Epstein in any of his properties. He confirmed that he had flown on Epstein’s now notorious jet, nicknamed the Lolita Express, and stayed on his private island and at his home in Palm Beach, as well as at his New York mansion.

“If you’re a man it is a positive act to have sex with somebody,” the prince explained. “You have to …. take some sort of positive action and so therefore if you try to forget it’s very difficult to try and forget a positive action and I do not remember anything.”

Of the allegations that he had sex with Virginia Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, when she was 17, the prince categorically denied it ever happened.

Roberts has said that they partied at Tramp nightclub in London on 10 March 2001, before going back to Maxwell’s Belgravia mews house where she claims she had sex with Andrew.

The prince said: “I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose four or five in the afternoon. And then because the duchess [Sarah Ferguson] was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other is there.”

Prince Andrew allegedly with Virginia Roberts, now Giuffre, in 2001.

Prince Andrew allegedly with Virginia Roberts, now Giuffre, in 2001.

Photograph: Shutterstock

A photograph of the prince with his arm around Roberts’s waist has been widely circulated, but the prince repeatedly said in his Newsnight interview he had “no recollection of that photograph ever being taken”. He said the picture appeared to have been taken upstairs in Maxwell’s house, somewhere “I don’t think I ever went”.

Yesterday Giuffre retweeted several disparaging tweets about the prince including one that read: “Prince Andrew’s shocking interview was an attempt to save his reputation – but it just raised more questions.”

In the interview the prince said he last saw Maxwell earlier this year. He defended his relationship with Epstein, who was found dead earlier this year in prison while being held on sex trafficking charges, saying it had opened up opportunities for him as he transitioned out of the navy: “In the navy it’s a pretty isolated business because you’re out at sea the whole time and I was going to become the special representative for international trade and development. The opportunities I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.”

He confirmed that Epstein had been a guest at Windsor and Sandringham and that he attended a dinner celebrating the financier’s release from prison. An arrest warrant was issued for Epstein in May 2006, for sexual assault of a minor. The prince confirmed that he invited Epstein to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday the following July and was unaware that the warrant had been issued.

In 2010, the prince was photographed walking with Epstein in New York’s Central Park – two years after Epstein’s first conviction for soliciting a minor for prostitution. When it was pointed out during the interview that he was staying at the house of a “convicted sex offender”, he said: “It was a convenient place to stay… At the end of the day, with the benefit of all the hindsight 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 judgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that is just the way it is.”

The prince said he went to the US to tell Epstein they could no longer see each other, as “doing it over the telephone was the chicken’s way”. Of claims that witnesses saw young girls entering Epstein’s mansion, the prince said: “you have to understand that his house, I described it … almost as a railway station … there were people coming in and out… all the time.”

He appeared to be open to giving a statement under oath, something Epstein’s victims have been demanding: “If push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so.” Before the broadcast, Gloria Allred, a lawyer acting for a number of Epstein’s victims, said: “Rather than just going on television he, I think, would be well served to just say I’m willing to take the oath and appear at a deposition.”

The prince said that his association with the financier had been “a constant sore in the family”.

Near the end of the interview, when Emily Maitlis asked if he felt any “guilt, regret or shame” about his behaviour or friendship with Epstein, the prince said only that it was “the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010” and added that it had been “beneficial” to know him.

He went on: “Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes …”

Maitlis interrupted, with visible astonishment: “Unbecoming? He was a sex offender.”

“Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m being polite – I mean in the sense that he was a sex offender,” the prince replied, before continuing his justification for remaining in contact with Epstein until 2010.

“But no, was I right in having him as a friend? At the time, bearing in mind this was some years before he was accused of being a sex offender. I don’t there was anything wrong then, the problem was the fact that once he had been convicted.”

Earlier, the prince suggested that he was a victim of the furore surrounding Epstein, saying that his own mental health had become an issue.

Jeffrey Epstein in court in West Palm Beach.

Jeffrey Epstein in court in West Palm Beach, Florida, in 2008. Photograph: Uma Sanghvi/AP


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