Prince Andrew on the photograph, meeting the sex offender and the four-day house stay

17 November 2019, 07:43 | Updated: 18 November 2019, 02:15

The Duke of York has spoken about his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

During an interview with BBC Newsnight, he spoke about a number of allegations that have been subject to intense speculation, including reports he had sex with a 17-year-old girl at the home of Epstein's ex-girlfriend in London in 2001.

Two years after Epstein was jailed for two charges of procuring underage girls in Florida, Andrew was photographed talking to him in Central Park. It has since been suggested it was set up by Epstein.

This is what the prince said in the interview about:

Why he went to see Epstein in 2010, two years after he was convicted

"Ever since this has happened and since this has become, as it were, public knowledge that I was there, I've questioned myself as to why did I go and what was I doing and was it the right thing to do? Now, I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.

"I had a number of people counsel me in both directions, either to go and see him or not to go and see him and I took the judgement call that because this was serious and I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken's way of doing it. I had to go and see him and talk to him.

"I went to see him and I was doing a number of other things in New York at the time and we had an opportunity to go for a walk in the park and that was the conversation coincidentally that was photographed which was when I said to him, I said 'look, because of what has happened, I don't think it is appropriate that we should remain in contact' and by mutual agreement during that walk in the park we decided that we would part company and I left, I think it was the next day and to this day I never had any contact with him from that day forward."

That photograph in Central Park, and whether Epstein had set it up

"New information... coming out since his suicide has made us reappraise that walk in the park. We can't find any evidence or my staff and my people and I can't find any evidence to suggest that that was what he was doing. I mean, you can look at it in so many different ways.

"The fact of the matter is, is that somebody very cleverly took that photograph, it wasn't as far as I remember nor do my security people remember, anybody being present or close because there were enough security around."

Why he spent four days at the house of a convicted sex offender

"It was a convenient place to stay. I mean I've gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that 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 judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that's just the way it is."

How Andrew and Epstein became friends

"I met through his girlfriend back in 1999 who... and I'd known her since she was at university in the UK and it would be, to some extent, a stretch to say that as it were we were close friends. I mean we were friends because of other people and I had a lot of opportunity to go to the United States but I didn't have much time with him.

"I saw him once or twice a year, perhaps maybe maximum of three times a year and quite often if I was in the United States and doing things and if he wasn't there, he would say 'well, why don't you come and use my houses?' so I said 'that's very kind, thank you very much indeed'.

"But it would be a considerable stretch to say that he was a very, very close friend. But he had the most extraordinary ability to bring extraordinary people together and that's the bit that I remember as going to the dinner parties where you would meet academics, politicians, people from the United Nations, I mean it was a cosmopolitan group of what I would describe as US eminents."

Whether he regrets his friendship

"Still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful. He himself not, as it were, as close as you might think, we weren't that close. So therefore I mean yes I would go and stay in his house but that was because of his girlfriend, not because of him.

"As far as Mr Epstein was concerned, it was the wrong decision to go and see him in 2010. As far as my association with him was concerned, it had some seriously beneficial outcomes in areas that have nothing and have nothing to do with what I would describe as what we're talking about today.

"On balance, could I have avoided ever meeting him? Probably not and that's because of my friendship with Ghislaine, it was…it was…it was inevitable that we would have come across each other. Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes."

A photo of him with Virginia Roberts-Giuffre, then aged 17, who accuses him of having sex with her

"I have absolutely no memory of that photograph ever being taken... from the investigations that we've done, you can't prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph. So it's very difficult to be able to prove it but I don't remember that photograph ever being taken.

"That's me but whether that's my hand or whether that's the position I... but I don't... I have simply no recollection of the photograph ever being taken.

"I don't remember going upstairs in the house because that photograph was taken upstairs and I am not entirely convinced that... I mean that is... that is what I would describe as me in that... in that picture but I can't…we can't be certain as to whether or not that's my hand on her whatever it is, left... left side.

"It's definitely me, I mean that's a picture of me, it's not a picture of... I don't believe it's a picture of me in London because when I would out to…when I go out in London, I wear a suit and a tie. That's what I would describe as…those are my travelling clothes if I'm going to go…if I'm going overseas."

The allegations by Virginia Roberts-Giuffre​​​​​​​ that she and Andrew had sex three times

"I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened... If you're a man, it is a positive act to have sex with somebody. You have to 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. I can't, I've wracked my brain and thinking 'oh'... when the first allegations, when the allegations came out originally I went 'well that's a bit strange, I don't remember this' and then I've been through it and through it and through it over and over and over again and no, nothing. It just never happened."

Virginia Roberts-Giuffre's allegations she and Andrew had sex at Epstein's mansion in New York

"The date we have for that shows that I was in Boston or I was in New York the previous day and I was at a dinner for The Outward Bound Trust in New York and then I flew up to Boston the following day and then on the day that she says that this occurred, they'd already left to go the island before I got back from Boston. So I don't think that could have happened at all.

"I was staying with the Consul General which is further down the street on 5th so I wasn't... I wasn't staying there. I may have visited but no, definitely didn't, definitely, definitely no, no, no activity."

Her allegations that they went dancing at Tramps nightclub in London before having sex

"On that particular day that we now understand is the date which is the 10th of March, I was at home, I was with the children and I'd taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at, I suppose, sort of 4 or 5 in the afternoon. And then because the duchess was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so therefore I was at home.

"Going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do. I've never been…I've only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly. As soon as somebody reminded me of it, I went 'oh yes, I remember that'. But I have no recollection of ever meeting or being in the company or the presence."

Allegations that Andrew had a massage with a girl who was sexually exploited or trafficked by Epstein in Florida

"No, I don't think... I mean I... no, definitely not, definitely not and I definitely did not visit his Palm Beach house three of four times a year, absolutely not."

How he was friends with Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's ex-girlfriend

"I'd known her since she was at university in the UK."

Whether he threw a party for Maxwell at Sandringham, to which Epstein was invited

"It was a shooting weekend. Just a straightforward, a straightforward shooting weekend.... It was his (Epstein's) girlfriend that was the key element in this. He was the, as it were, plus one, to some extent in that aspect."

Whether he was a party prince

"I think that's also a bit of a stretch. I don't know why I've collected that title because I don't... I never have really partied. I was single for quite a long time in the early 80s but then after I got married I was very happy and I've never really felt the need to go and party and certainly going to Jeffrey's was not about partying, absolutely not."

Whether it has damaged the Royal Family

"I don't believe it's been damaging to the Queen at all, it has to me and it's been a constant drip if you see what I mean in the background that people want to know. If I was in a position to be able to answer all these questions in a way that gave sensible answers other than the ones that I have given that gave closure then I'd love it but I'm afraid I can't. I'm just not in a position to do so because I'm just as much in the dark as many people."