Prince Andrew denies knowledge of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s behaviour

The Duke of York has broken his silence on his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

The Queen’s second son said that he never ‘witnessed or suspected’ any improper behaviour by Epstein, who killed himself in jail two weeks ago while awaiting child sex trafficking charges.

The royal has been dogged by accusations of a lack of judgement over his friendship with the billionaire.
He admitted it was a ‘mistake’ to see Epstein after the American was released from an 18-month jail term in 2010 for prostituting minors.

The Prince said he had ‘tremendous sympathy’ for the financier’s victims and denied any knowledge of Epstein’s criminal behaviour with underage girls.

Until now, Buckingham Palace has spoken on his behalf but on Saturday afternoon, Prince Andrew released a statement himself.

He said: ‘It is apparent to me since the suicide of Mr Epstein that there has been an immense amount of media speculation about so much in his life.

‘This is particularly the case in relation to my former association or friendship with Mr Epstein.
‘Therefore I am eager to clarify the facts to avoid further speculation.’

He continued: ‘I met Mr Epstein in 1999. During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year.

I have stayed in a number of his residences. ‘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.

‘I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010 and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know.

‘I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behaviour. ‘His suicide has left many unanswered questions and I acknowledge and sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

‘This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr Epstein’s lifestyle. ‘I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour.’

Over the years, Epstein mingled with politicians, socialites and celebrities, including Donald Trump before he was president, and Bill Clinton.

Prince Andrew met Epstein in 1999 when the financier and his ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell were invited to a party at Windsor Castle.
Ms Maxwell, the daughter of late newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, has been accused by some of Epstein’s victims of being his ‘procurer’ – a charge she denies.

This morning it was reported that Ms Maxwell made visits to see the royal at Buckingham Palace. Over the years, Prince Andrew is believed to have holidayed with Epstein in Florida and Thailand as well as visiting his homes in the US.

In 2008, Epstein did a plea-deal with prosecutors and was jailed for 13 months for soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution.

That allowed him to avert a possible life sentence but on his release he had to register as a sex offender. In 2011 Andrew was forced to quit as a UK trade envoy after being pictured meeting Epstein following his release from the child sex jail term.

The pair were seen walking together in New York’s Central Park.

One of the women who have filed lawsuits against Epstein’s estate – Virginia Roberts, now Giuffre – has also claimed she was forced by Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions between 1999 and 2001.

The pair were pictured together in 2001 at the house of Ms Maxwell. The allegations, first made in 2015, were officially struck from the court records by a judge, who ruled they were ‘immaterial’.

Prince Andrew has strenuously denied ‘any form of sexual contact or relationship’ between the royal and Ms Roberts.

Epstein was arrested again in July last year on federal charges for sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York in the early 2000s.

He was being held at the Manhattan Correctional Center awaiting trial next summer after pleading not guilty. Epstein was found dead on August 10 in his prison cell and a medical examiner ruled he died by suicide.

Prince Andrew is believed to have been staying at Balmoral with his mother and other members of the royal family when news of Epstein’s death broke.

He is now said to be in Spain although his relatives are still in Scotland on their annual summer break.


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