New York: Britain’s Prince Andrew says he doesn’t remember a woman who has accused him of sexually exploiting her in encounters arranged by Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew told the BBC in an interview scheduled to be broadcast on Saturday, London time, that he has “no recollection” of meeting “this lady”, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who says Epstein paid her $US15,000 after she had sex with Andrew in 2001 when she was 17.
Andrew has made similar denials for years but has come under new pressure following Epstein’s arrest and suicide in New York in August.
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” Andrew tells the BBC, according to excerpts of the interview released on Saturday.
Giuffre, who is now married with children and lives in Australia, has produced a photo showing her posing with the prince in London and recently challenged the British royal to speak out, telling reporters: “He knows exactly what he’s done, and I hope he comes clean about it.”
She says Epstein flew her on his private planes to his properties in New Mexico, the US Virgin Islands, Paris and New York, and that meetings were arranged for sex in London and elsewhere with Prince Andrew.
Andrew said in the BBC interview that he regrets not cutting ties with Epstein after the financier was convicted in 2008 of sex crimes involving teenage girls. He saw Epstein, a sex offender, following his release from custody in Florida.
“I kick myself for [it] on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family,” Andrew said, “and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.”
Andrew has said he first met Epstein three years after his 10-year marriage with Sarah Ferguson ended in divorce in 1996. He said in a statement earlier this year that he saw Epstein “infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year.”
This week, executors of Epstein’s estate said they had asked a judge to approve the creation of a proposed fund to compensate women the financier was accused of having sexually abused.
The executors, Darren Indyke and Richard Kahn, said the fund would create a “voluntary, confidential, non-adversarial alternative to litigation.”
Epstein, 66, died by hanging himself in his Manhattan jail cell on August 10, two days after signing a will and putting his estimated $US577 million estate into a trust. He had been arrested in July on federal sex trafficking charges, to which he pleaded not guilty.
His estate is facing about a dozen lawsuits from women who say Epstein sexually abused them, many while they were underage.