Prince Andrew: Just 6% believe duke's answers over Epstein - Sky News poll

18 November 2019, 16:25 | Updated: 18 November 2019, 21:18

Just 6% of the public believe Prince Andrew's explanation of his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to a Sky News poll.

People were asked what they thought of an interview the duke did with BBC Newsnight, during which he denied having sex with a 17-year-old girl at the home of the disgraced billionaire's ex-girlfriend in London in 2001.

The duke has been widely mocked on social media for his assertion that he was in a Pizza Express in Woking on the night of the alleged incident.

He also used the interview to say he knew nothing of Epstein's crimes, and addressed pictures taken of the pair two years after the American was jailed for two charges of procuring underage girls in Florida.

Andrew said he now believes it was "definitely the wrong thing to do but at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do", but failed to say that he regretted his friendship with Epstein.

Just 6% of people polled said they believed the explanations he gave in the interview, with 51% saying they did not believe him and 43% saying they were unsure.

The low level of belief in his answers spans all demographics and political groups, according to the results of the survey carried out for Sky News by YouGov.

Almost half (47%) of people believe the way Prince Andrew has responded to the allegations surrounding Epstein has damaged the monarchy, with less than a quarter (23%) believing that it had not.

Some 30% said they were unsure.

The interview on Newsnight was the culmination of years of statements from Buckingham Palace, and was intended to dispel increasing scrutiny of the duke's relationship with Epstein, who died in prison earlier this year.

Andrew was accused of "utterly lacking in compassion" for the victims of the disgraced billionaire, with several commentators expressing their shock about the nature of the interview.

Lisa Bloom, who represents five of Epstein's victims, told Sky News: "He seems utterly lacking in the compassion and the astonishment that the rest of the world has felt after hearing from Jeffrey Epstein's victims."

Just days after the interview aired, the duke was accused by a former Downing Street aide of having used the n-word during a meeting at Buckingham Palace.

Sky News understands that the palace has written a legal letter to the Evening Standard over allegations made in the newspaper by columnist Rohan Silva, who was an adviser to former PM David Cameron.

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He said that the Duke of York used the racist word while talking with him about trade policy in 2012, when asked if he thought the government department responsible for trade "could be doing a better job".

The royal was alleged to have said: "Well, if you'll pardon the expression, that really is the n***** in the woodpile".

The palace is understood to "strenuously deny that these words were ever used".

Sky News has also learned that KPMG is not renewing its sponsorship of Andrew's Pitch@Palace initiative.

The accountancy firm had been a founding partner of the royal's start-up mentorship scheme for entrepreneurs.

KPMG's sponsorship lapsed at the end of October and a decision was made not to take it on.

The company declined to comment.

Another partner of Pitch@Palace, AstraZeneca, said: "Our three year partnership with pitch@palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed."

In another development, The Outward Bound Trust said it is reviewing Andrew's patronage of their charity at an additional board meeting this week.