String of big firms cut ties with Prince Andrew

19 November 2019, 17:28

Several big firms have cut ties with Prince Andrew
Several big firms have cut ties with Prince Andrew. Picture: PA

By Asher McShane

The Duke of York's role in public life has suffered further major setbacks with multi-million pound businesses cutting ties, and universities reviewing their association with him.

Bank Standard Chartered has joined KPMG in deciding not to renew its sponsorship of Andrew's Pitch@Palace entrepreneurial scheme.

MailOnline reported that Advertising Week Europe, which also supported the Pitch@Palace scheme, had pulled its backing too.

Prince Andrew was heavily criticised following his interview on Newsnight
Prince Andrew was heavily criticised following his interview on Newsnight. Picture: BBC

London Metropolitan University is to consider the duke's role as its patron, while a student panel at Huddersfield University has passed a motion to lobby the duke to resign as its chancellor.

The Queen's second son is facing the embarrassing prospect of charities and institutions he is associated with distancing themselves after his controversial Newsnight interview.

Andrew discussed his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who took his own life in jail while facing sex trafficking charges.

The duke has faced a barrage of criticism and been accused of having a lack of empathy with Epstein's victims and a lack of remorse for his friendship with the disgraced financier.

A spokesman for Standard Chartered said: "We can confirm we are not renewing our sponsorship of Pitch@Palace for commercial reasons once our current agreement terminates in December."

London Metropolitan University said the duke's role as its patron, which he took over from the Duke of Edinburgh in 2013, will be considered at its board of governors meeting next Tuesday.

A spokesman added: "The university opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse, human trafficking and any activity that is contrary to the university's values."

At Huddersfield University, the motion said: "We as students at the University of Huddersfield and members of Huddersfield Students' Union should not be represented by a man with ties to organised child sexual exploitation and assault."

It said they needed to put "survivors of sexual assault above royal connections".

AstraZeneca's three-year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is being reviewed, and Outward Bound Trust, of which Andrew is patron, is to hold a board meeting in the next few days to discuss the matter.

Lawyers for Epstein's victims have urged the duke to tell US authorities what he knows.

During the BBC interview, the duke, questioned by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, twice said his relationship with Epstein had some "seriously beneficial outcomes", giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.

He denied sleeping with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was under-age, and said an alleged encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter, Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.

The American accuser said alleged encounter began with the duke sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp.

But the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.

He said he had no recollection of meeting Ms Giuffre.

Nigel Farage, asked whether the standing of the royal family had been affected by Andrew's response to his friendship with Epstein, said: "It's not good. For him it's bad. He's eighth in line to the throne so it's not a direct threat to the monarchy."

The Brexit Party leader added: "The Queen just becomes this ever-more exalted figure and the public are starting to look at those who come after her with a degree of scepticism, but it's not uncommon. That has happened throughout history."

Alastair Campbell branded the duke's interview a "mistake", but the ex-Downing Street director of communications added: "I don't think it was as bad as it is now being defined."