Prince Andrew stepping back from royal duties

Prince Andrew: Epstein ‘a constant sore in the family’

The Duke of York says he is stepping back from royal duties because the Jeffrey Epstein scandal has become a “major disruption” to the Royal Family.

Prince Andrew, 59, said he had asked the Queen for permission to withdraw for the “foreseeable future”.

He said he deeply sympathised with sex offender Epstein’s victims and everyone who “wants some form of closure”.

The duke has faced a growing backlash following a BBC interview about his friendship with the US financier.

In a statement, he said: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.

“His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

“I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.”

He added that he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.

BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said the move was “a big step” and was “pretty much without precedent in modern times”.

He said it showed a realisation that the interview had “upset a lot of people”, adding: “It was more than just bad publicity for Prince Andrew, it was clearly damaging the wider institution of the Royal Family.”

Earlier, a letter written to the Times newspaper by Buckingham Palace cast doubt on when the duke first met Epstein.

The 2011 letter says they met in the early 1990s, not in 1999 as Prince Andrew said in his BBC interview.

The letter was published after the Times reported on the existence of a photo of the prince with 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre, then known as Roberts, who would later testify that she had been forced to have sex with him.

The duke has always denied any form of sexual contact or relationship with her.

Prince Andrew with Virginia Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell standing behind, in early 2001 (said to have been taken at Maxwell’s London home)The duke was pictured with Ms Giuffre in Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home in 2001

In his interview with the BBC’s Newsnight on Saturday, the duke said he met Epstein “through his girlfriend back in 1999” – a reference to Ghislaine Maxwell, who had been a friend of Prince Andrew since she was at university.

The duke said he could not recall ever meeting Ms Giuffre and recalled that he went to Pizza Express in Woking and then returned home the night she claims they first met.

He sought to cast doubt on her testimony that he was “profusely sweating” in a nightclub, saying that a medical condition at the time meant he could not perspire.

The duke said meeting Epstein for a final time in 2010 was “the wrong decision”, but said the “opportunities I was given to learn” about business meant he did not regret the friendship.

Prince Andrew, left, and Jeffrey Epstein in New York's Central ParkThe prince said he regretted this 2010 meeting with Epstein

The duke’s website says he carries out official duties for the Queen, focusing on promoting economic growth and skilled job creation.

Over the past two months he has carried out overseas engagements in Australia, United Arab Emirates and Thailand.

BT became the latest in a series of organisations to distance themselves from Prince Andrew, following the interview.

In a statement, the firm said it had been working with iDEA – which helps people develop digital, business and employment skills – since 2017 but “our dealings have been with its executive directors not its patron, the Duke of York”.

“In light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage,” a spokeswoman said.

Standard Chartered Bank and KPMG also announced they were withdrawing support for the duke’s business mentoring initiative Pitch@Palace. Sources told the BBC the decisions were made before the interview.

Four Australian universities also said they would not be continuing their involvement in Pitch@Palace Australia.

Prince Andrew cancelled a planned visit to flood-hit areas of Yorkshire on Tuesday, the Sun newspaper reported.

Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview was shown on BBC Two on 16 November 2019 and can be seen on BBC iPlayer in the UK. The full interview can also be seen on YouTube.

Prince Andrew: Standard Chartered bank cuts ties with duke’s scheme

Prince Andrew

Standard Chartered has become the second corporate partner to sever ties with the Duke of York’s business mentoring initiative, Pitch@Palace.

The bank joined accountancy firm KPMG in pulling support for the scheme.

It said it was not renewing its sponsorship for “commercial reasons”.

Several businesses and universities are reviewing their association with Prince Andrew following a BBC interview about his links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Sources have told the BBC the decisions by Standard Chartered and KPMG were made before the interview.

‘Very serious questions’

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn were asked about whether Prince Andrew was “fit for purpose” during their head-to-head debate on ITV on Tuesday evening.

The Labour leader said there were “very, very serious questions that must be answered and nobody should be above the law”.

The prime minister said: “I think all our sympathies should be, obviously, with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein and the law must certainly take its course.”

Boris Johnson says monarchy “beyond reproach”

In his Newsnight interview, broadcast on Saturday, the Queen’s third child said he still did not regret his friendship with US financier Epstein – who took his own life in August while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in the US.

The interview has provoked a backlash, with businesses, charities and other institutions announcing that they were reviewing their association with the prince.

In addition to Standard Chartered and KPMG ending their support for Pitch@Palace:

  • Pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca and Hult International Business School are reviewing their partnerships with the business scheme
  • Outward Bound, the charity the Duke of Edinburgh was patron of for 65 years, has called a board meeting to discuss the prince’s patronage
  • London Metropolitan University said it will consider the prince’s role as its patron, saying it “opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse and human trafficking”
  • University of Huddersfield students are calling for the prince to be sacked as their chancellor

On Monday, the Huddersfield students’ union panel passed a motion to lobby the prince to resign as their chancellor.

The university has since said that it listens to its students’ views and will “now be consulting with them over the coming weeks”.

Prince Andrew on Epstein: ‘There was no indication, absolutely no indication’

The duke has stood by his decision to speak out, after critics labelled the interview a “car crash”.

But speaking on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme on Tuesday, Huddersfield student Tristan Smith criticised the prince over his friendship with Epstein.

He accused Prince Andrew of “trying to dismiss” the row and failing to recognise Epstein’s victims.

Meanwhile, a woman who has accused Epstein of sexually abusing her as a 15-year-old has urged Prince Andrew to share information about his former friend.

The accuser, identified as “Jane Doe 15”, did not accuse Prince Andrew of any wrongdoing but called on him and others to come forward and give a statement under oath.

Image caption“Jane Doe 15”, left, gave a press conference with lawyer Gloria Allred

Elsewhere, former home secretary Jacqui Smith alleged that Prince Andrew made racist comments to her during a state dinner.

“I have to say the conversation left us slack-jawed with the things that he felt it was appropriate to say,” she told the LBC election podcast.

And Rohan Silva, who was an adviser to former prime minister David Cameron, also accused the prince of using a racial slur in his presence.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman strenuously denied the claims, adding that Prince Andrew “does not tolerate racism in any form”.

There is no wholesale repudiation of Prince Andrew’s public role.

But whether as a result of the interview he gave, or because of the continuing swirl of allegations, there is a falling away of support for the prince, both corporate and political.

The former Labour lord chancellor and justice secretary, Lord Falconer, told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that he thought the time had come for Prince Andrew to step away from public duties.

Those close to Prince Andrew say that a withdrawal from public life is not under consideration.

But if support continues to seep from him, it will undermine his public position.

‘Human tragedy’

There was also further reaction to the prince’s BBC appearance.

Actress Rose McGowan – one of the most prominent figures of the #MeToo movement – told the Victoria Derbyshire programme she thought it was not a truthful interview.

“It’s also certainly not the mark of someone who is an empathetic character who cares about victims in any way,” she added.

The actress also said she wished more questions had been asked about Epstein’s alleged victims.

“We can’t forget there is human tragedy behind this… This has serious repercussions, serious ramifications and serious pain that is involved in this story.”

However, Alastair Campbell – Tony Blair’s ex-communications chief – said that although he thought the interview was a “mistake”, it was not “as bad as it is now being defined”.

Mr Campbell, who was another high-profile Briton to be named in Epstein’s 97-page “black book” of contacts, also told the Today programme that he met the financier on a visit to the US for a funeral and found him to be “a bit creepy”.

Prince Andrew’s BBC interview followed allegations by Virginia Giuffre, known at the time as Virginia Roberts, who claims the prince had sex with her on three occasions – the first when she was aged 17.

Prince Andrew “categorically” denied having had sexual contact with her.

In an extraordinary interview, which you can watch in full on BBC iPlayer in the UK or YouTube elsewhere in the world, the duke said:

  • He had investigations carried out to establish whether a photograph of him with Ms Giuffre was faked, but they were inconclusive
  • He would testify under oath if “push came to shove” and his lawyers advised him to
  • He was unaware of an arrest warrant against Epstein when he invited him to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle
  • He does not regret his friendship with Epstein because of “the opportunities I was given to learn” from him about trade and business
  • Speaking out about his relationship with the financier had become almost “a mental health issue” for him

Jeffrey Epstein guards charged with falsifying records

US financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services' sex offender registry on 28 March, 2017

Jeffrey Epstein was charged with sexually abusing dozens of girls

Two prison guards who were on duty on the night of disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein’s death have been charged with falsifying records.

They are accused of failing to check in on him every 30 minutes and fabricating log entries to show they had.

Epstein hanged himself in jail in August while awaiting trial on federal sex-trafficking charges.

The charges against the two guards are the first to arise from a criminal inquiry into his death.

Epstein had pleaded not guilty to sexually abusing dozens of girls, some as young as 14.

The 66 year old was already a convicted sex offender, having been jailed in Florida in 2008 for procuring a minor for prostitution.

What are the two guards accused of?

They were supposed to check on Epstein every 30 minutes on the night of his death. He had been taken off suicide watch after a previous suspected attempt to take his own life and was alone in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York.

But attorney Geoffrey Berman said the two guards had “repeatedly failed to conduct mandated checks on inmates, and lied on official forms to hide their dereliction”.

The guards were named in a statement by the Southern District of New York Attorney’s Office on Tuesday as correctional officers Tova Noel and Michael Thomas, aged 31 and 41 respectively.

For “substantial portions” of their shifts, they “sat at their desk, browsed the internet, and moved around the common area”, the statement said. They then signed “false certifications” showing that they had conducted counts of inmates.

Both guards have been charged with “making false records and conspiring to make false records and to defraud the United States”.

“We allege these officers falsified records to create the appearance they were following those protocols. The security risks created by this type of behaviour are immense,” FBI assistant director William Sweeney said in the statement.

Surveillance footage showed that no other people had entered the area where Epstein was held that evening, the statement added.

Both guards were previously reported to have been working overtime shifts on the night of Epstein’s death.

US Attorney General William Barr ordered their suspension in August after the FBI opened an investigation.

Federal prosecutors later offered the guards a plea bargain but they turned it down, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Who was Jeffrey Epstein and what was he charged with?

New York-born Epstein worked as a teacher before moving into finance. Prior to the criminal cases against him, he was best known for his wealth and high-profile connections.

Jane Doe 15: “Epstein wielded great villainous power”

He was often seen socialising with the rich and powerful, including US President Donald Trump, former President Bill Clinton and the UK’s Prince Andrew.

Epstein was accused of paying girls under the age of 18 to perform sex acts at his Manhattan and Florida mansions between 2002 and 2005. He was arrested on 6 July.

He avoided similar charges in a controversial deal in 2008, pleading guilty to a lesser charge of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution.

Presentational grey line

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Prince Andrew on Epstein: “There was no indication, absolutely no indication”

Trump may be Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ biggest re-election hurdle

Add in the impeachment inquiry, and the Republican has more to worry about than just her Democratic challengers

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Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, hands out candy to children outside her office during an Oct. 25 trick-or-treat event hosted by the local chamber of commerce in Lewiston. Associated Press/David Sharp

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, hands out candy to children outside her office during an Oct. 25 trick-or-treat event hosted by the local chamber of commerce in Lewiston.

LEWISTON — Republican Sen. Susan Collins has a well-funded Democrat prepping to challenge her next year. She has national women’s groups ready to attack her over her vote for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. And she’s a moderate facing an electorate that increasingly prioritizes purity.

Still, the four-term Maine senator’s biggest hurdle to re-election may be the president of her own party.

President Trump’s potential impeachment in the House and subsequent trial in the Senate presents a distinct dilemma for Collins. Of the handful of Republicans senators facing re-election next year, she has done perhaps the most to keep a clear distance from Trump. But as Democrats charge ahead toward impeachment, it looks increasingly likely that Collins will be forced to take sides in dramatic fashion. The senator, who has acknowledged she didn’t vote for the president in 2016 and still won’t say whether she will next year, may have to vote for him on the Senate floor.

“Susan Collins is in a terrible position,” said David Farmer, a Democratic operative in Maine. “The position that she’s in where she will likely … take a vote on whether to remove the president from office is going to inflame either the Democratic or the Republican base.”

Collins has kept mum on the House inquiry into whether the president abused his power by trying to get the president of Ukraine to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter because of her potential role as an impeachment juror.

But she’s already shown a willingness to criticize the president on various issues. She said it was “completely inappropriate” for Trump to ask China to investigate the Bidens. And she said his decision to pull U.S. troops from the border in Syria and leave Kurds open to attack was “terribly unwise.”

Trump often lashes out at those who criticize him, even those in his own party, like Sens. Mitt Romney of Utah and Ben Sasse of Nebraska.

But he has not attacked Collins, yet.

Collins’ aides shrug off questions of how presidential politics could factor into her race, and the 66-year-old senator said she’s built her career on an independence valued by Mainers.

“I just have to run, should I decide to run, my own race. And that’s what I’ve always done regardless of who’s on the top of the ticket,” she told The Associated Press.

She has said she plans to formally announce whether she’s seeking re-election later this fall.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has thrown its support behind Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon. The three other Democratic candidates are activist Betsy Sweet, attorney Bre Kidman and a late-comer, former Google executive Ross LaJeunesse.

For her part, Gideon has been touting her progressive credentials in her fundraising, but she’s stopped shy of supporting Medicare for All or the Green New Deal, though she says climate change and universal health care are important to her.

She’s unequivocal on Trump.

She supports the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry – and accuses Collins of failing to stand up to Trump. “In the times that we’ve needed her the most, since (Trump) has become president, she’s not delivering for us,” Gideon told a gathering in Portland.

Gideon raised $1 million more than Collins in the most recent reporting cycle. But Collins has raised far more money – $8.6 million – the largest of any political candidate in Maine history. Pundits suggest upward of $80 million to $100 million could be spent on this race before Election Day 2020.

Democrats see an opportunity as Collins navigates a potentially precarious path in a fractured state where Trump is reviled in liberal, coastal communities and cheered in the conservative, heavily wooded north.

Try as she might, she won’t be able to avoid Trump, who’s expected to campaign in Maine, where he claimed one of the state’s four electoral votes in 2016.

Josh Tardy, a Bangor attorney and former Republican leader in the Maine House, said Mainers expect Collins to demonstrate “due diligence” on her constitutionally imposed obligations when it comes to impeachment.

But he downplayed the impact in her race.

“I think most people view this impeachment as partisan tit for tat. I don’t think that’s (going) to drive the election needle one way or the other,” he said.

In Lewiston, a former mill town on the Androscoggin River, the senator’s challenges were clear even at a recent event hosted by the local chamber of commerce.

Collins appeared at ease as she handed out Halloween candy to children, posed for selfies and chatted with the adults. But some voters were less so.

Hillary Dow said she was “troubled” by a key vote that incensed Democrats – Collins’ support of Kavanaugh, who was accused of sexual assault during the Supreme Court confirmation process. But she said she continues to back Collins because of the bigger picture – her moderate views, her bipartisanship, her track record.

“I appreciate that she’s honest and fair, and she focuses on what really matters. She’s a good person,” she said.

But one man who sought out Collins for a photo later acknowledged he might not vote at all because he’s so frustrated with national politics.

“I’m not sure if I trust anyone anymore, as far as the politicians go,” said restaurant worker Craig Aleo. “It’s a tough world right now.”

Collins conceded it’s a difficult time for a politician who has made a career trying to broker legislative deals.

“The current environment is very disturbing to me. There’s a lack of focus on what we need to do for the American people, and instead the focus is on power struggles over who’s going to control what,” she said.

Collins hails from Caribou, in the conservative 2nd Congressional District that voted for Trump. That’s where her parents served as mayor, and where her family still runs the S.W. Collins hardware store.

Ousting Collins from Maine politics, where her roots run deep, is no small task.

Cynthia Noyes, who describes herself as “liberal in Republican clothing,” fears that her friend from high school is more vulnerable this election cycle. But the Caribou flower shop owner still supports Collins, and she hopes other independent-minded voters will support her as they have in the past.

“Do what’s right and you’ll be OK. Mainers are like that. If they think you’re doing the right thing, then you’ll be OK,” she said.

Prince Andrew questioned about Epstein, Sex Ring, American accuser

epsteinandrew63

Prince Andrew: ‘Going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do’

The Duke of York has “categorically” denied having any sexual contact with an American woman, who says she was forced to have sex with him aged 17.

Answering questions about his links to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in a BBC interview, Prince Andrew said the alleged incidents “never happened”.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, claimed she was forced to have sex with the prince three times.

The prince said he was at home with his children on one of the occasions.

Prince Andrew, who is the Queen’s third child, has been facing questions for several months over his ties to Epstein, a 66-year-old American financier who took his own life while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges.

Prince Andrew says he has wracked his brains but cannot recall any incident involving Virginia Roberts.

Virginia Giuffre – then called Virginia Roberts – has said she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew between 2001 – when she was 17 – and 2002, in London, New York and Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, the prince said: “It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.”

“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

He said Ms Giuffre’s account of him “profusely sweating” and “pouring with perspiration” when they danced at the club on the night in 2001 when she says they first had sex was impossible, because he had a medical condition preventing him from perspiring.

In an extraordinary interview, which you can watch in full on BBC iPlayer in the UK or YouTube elsewhere in the world, the duke said:

  • He had investigations carried out to establish whether a photograph of him with Ms Giuffre was faked, but they were inconclusive
  • He would testify under oath if “push came to shove” and his lawyers advised him to
  • He was unaware of an arrest warrant against Epstein when he invited him to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle
  • He does not regret his friendship with Epstein because of “the opportunities I was given to learn” from him about trade and business
  • Speaking out about his relationship with the financier had become almost “a mental health issue” for him

Addressing Ms Giuffre’s claims that she had dined with the prince, danced with him at a nightclub, and went on to have sex with him at the house of Ghislaine Maxwell, a friend of the prince, in Belgravia, central London, he said “there are a number of things that are wrong with that story”.

Prince Andrew on Epstein: ‘There was no indication, absolutely no indication’

He said the date when Ms Giuffre says he had sex with her was 10 March 2001, when he had taken his daughter Beatrice to Pizza Express in Woking for a party before spending the night at home.

“Going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do,” he said. “I remember it weirdly distinctly.”

No memory

Ms Giuffre described him providing her with alcohol at a nightclub, but Prince Andrew said: “I don’t drink, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a drink in Tramps whenever I was there.”

On claims he was sweating, he said: “I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time,” he said, blaming it on “an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War”.

He said he had only started to be able to sweat again “in the recent past”.

Asked about a photograph of him and Ms Giuffre being taken at Ghislaine Maxwell’s house, he said he had “absolutely no memory” of it.

Prince Andrew with Virginia Giuffre, and Ghislaine Maxwell standing behind, in early 2001 (said to have been taken at Maxwell’s London home)The duke was pictured with his accuser in Ghislaine Maxwell’s London home in 2001

“Investigations that we’ve done” have been unable to prove whether the photograph was faked, he said, “because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph”.

Prince Andrew said he did not recall going upstairs in that house, said he was not dressed as he usually would be if he was in London and added “we can’t be certain as to whether or not that’s my hand”.

“I’m at a loss to explain this particular photograph,” he said.

A thick skin

On the further accusation that he had sex with her in New York, the duke denied he was present at Epstein’s home that day, although he had been travelling in the US.

He also denied the claim he had sex with her on Epstein’s private island with a group of seven or eight other girls. “Absolutely no to all of it,” he said.

Prince Andrew said he never suspected Epstein’s criminal behaviour on his visits, describing the house as a busy place with staff like Buckingham Palace.

Footage appears to shows Prince Andrew inside Jeffrey Epstein’s New York residence in 2010

He said: “I live in an institution at Buckingham Palace which has members of staff walking around all the time and I don’t wish to appear grand but there were a lot of people who were walking around Jeffrey Epstein’s house. As far as I aware, they were staff.”

But he denied that there were large numbers of underage girls present and said Epstein “may have changed his behaviour patterns not to be obvious to me”.

Asked if he would testify under oath, the duke said: “I’m like everybody else and I will have to take all the legal advice that there was before I was to do that sort of thing. But if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty bound to do so.”

‘The wrong thing to do’

The duke rejected the perception of him as “the party prince” in the past, and said “going to Jeffrey’s was not about partying, absolutely not”.

He said he had first met Epstein through his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell in 1999 but it was a “stretch” to say they were close friends and they saw each other “a maximum of three times a year”.

Prince Andrew acknowledged he had stayed on Epstein’s private island, visited his home in Palm Beach, Florida, and travelled on his private plane.

He said he wanted to learn more about the “international business world and so that was another reason” for going to visit the 66-year-old American financier in New York, as the prince became special representative for international trade and investment.

He invited Epstein to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday at Windsor Castle in July 2006 but said “certainly I wasn’t aware” that a warrant had been issued in May for his arrest for sex crimes.

But the duke said he ceased contact with Epstein later that year, until 2010.

Epstein was convicted of soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution in 2008 and received an 18-month prison sentence after prosecutors forged a deal with him.

Prince Andrew, left, and Jeffrey Epstein in New York's Central ParkPrince Andrew said this meeting with Epstein in 2010 was to end their relationship

In July 2010, Epstein was released and in December, Prince Andrew went to visit him in his New York mansion.

Challenged on his decision to stay at the home of a convicted sex offender, he said: “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.”

He stayed several days and attended a dinner party, however. “It was a convenient place to stay,” he said, but added “with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do”.

The duke denied an account by another guest that he had been seen receiving a foot massage from a Russian woman.

Asked about a picture of him and Epstein taken in Central Park in 2010, Prince Andrew said “somebody very cleverly took that photograph” but that they had not been able to “find any evidence” that Epstein had set it up.

‘A sore in the family’

The fallout over Epstein’s arrest had been “a constant sore in the family”, the prince said.

Following the allegations made against him in a 2015 deposition, Prince Andrew said the wider Royal Family “couldn’t be more supportive” and his immediate family “were at a loss”.

Prince Andrew: Epstein ‘a constant sore in the family’

The duke denied the episode had been damaging to the Queen, but said “it has to me, and it’s been a constant drip in the background that people want to know”.

He said he would like to be able to give “closure” on the issue but “I’m just as much in the dark as many people”.

He said that choosing to talk about the allegations was “almost a mental health issue to some extent for me”, adding that “it’s been nagging at my mind for a great many years”.

Meeting Epstein after his conviction was “the wrong decision and the wrong judgement” but the allegations from Ms Giuffre were “surprising, shocking and a distraction”, he said.

But he refused to entirely disavow his relationship with Epstein, saying it had “some seriously beneficial outcomes” that were unrelated to the accusations against them both.

“Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes,” he said.

After interviewer Emily Maitlis challenged him, describing Epstein as a sex offender, the duke said: “Yeah, I’m sorry, I’m being polite.”

Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview was shown on BBC Two on 16 November 2019 and can be seen on BBC iPlayer in the UK and the full interview can also be seen on YouTube.

US military reports major spike in sex assaults

Pentagon officials commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in March 2015Pentagon officials commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month in March 2015

The US military has reported a major spike in sexual assaults despite years of efforts to address the problem.

Figures show 20,500 instances of unwanted sexual contact occurred in 2018, up from 14,900 in 2016 which is the last time a survey was conducted.

Alcohol was involved in one third of cases, and female recruits ages 17 to 24 are at the highest risk of attack.

On Thursday, Acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan directed the military to “criminalise” sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment can fall within other legal violations of military behaviour, but is not yet a “stand-alone” criminal offence.

The directive from Mr Shanahan was among a series of other recommendations, released in a memo on Thursday.

“Sexual assault is illegal and immoral, is inconsistent with the military’s mission and will not be tolerated,” he wrote.

In the US, sexual harassment is illegal, considered a form of sexual discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which also covers discrimination based on race, skin colour, religion and national origin.

What does the report show?

The report released on Thursday surveyed the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, and estimated a total of 20,500 cases in 2018.

The total figure is based reports of attacks as well as an extrapolation of survey data which was gathered through a poll of over 100,000 troops. Researchers say the survey has a 95% level of confidence.

Incidents of unwanted sexual contact – which ranges from groping to rape – rose by around 38% between 2016 and 2018.

Only one out of three cases were reported to authorities, the report found.

In 2006, only one in 14 victims reported sexual assault crimes, the Pentagon said.

In a statement issued on Thursday, the Marines acknowledged they had “historically viewed an increase in reporting as an indicator Marines feel more empowered to report more confident in the care victims receive”.

“However, with the number of estimated assaults rising, especially among our young Marines, the Marine Corps must evolve its prevention methods and continue to foster a climate and culture of dignity, respect and trust,” the statement said.

In more than 85% of cases, victims knew their attacker. The majority of cases involved young women whose attacker was often a superior officer.

The report should be “a trip wire”, said Nate Galbreath, Deputy Director of the Department’ of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

“This is what tells us that there’s something going on that we need to hone in on,” he told ABC News.

“We’ve got a higher prevalence for women 17 to 24. We’re going to be focusing very, very tightly on that.”

What is the reaction?

Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who chairs the House Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel, told the USA Today newspaper that the military “must accept that current programmes are simply not working”.

“Congress must lead the way in forcing the department to take more aggressive approaches to fighting this scourge,” she said, calling for intervention from US lawmakers.

On Thursday, Mr Shanahan revealed some of the recommendations made by the Sexual Assault Accountability and Investigation Task Force, which was created last month after the urging of Senator Martha McSally.

Senator Martha McSally: “I was ashamed and confused”

Senator McSally, who was the first female US fighter pilot to fly in combat, revealed in March that she had been raped by a superior officer while serving in the Air Force.

In response to the report, Mr Shanahan directed the US Department of Defence “criminalise” sexual harassment “to combat this scourge”.

He detailed prevention, accountability and support efforts in order to “eliminate” sexual assault, including new methods of identifying repeat offenders.

“We must, and will, do better,” he wrote in the memo.

It is unclear if he would need congressional approval to make changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice – the US military’s legal code, to make the offence a “stand-alone crime”.

In his memo, Mr Shanahan also announced plans to train commanders in a new programme to uncover serial sex offenders.

“To put it bluntly, we are not performing to the standards and expectations we have for ourselves or for each other,” Mr Shanahan said.

“This is unacceptable. We cannot shrink from facing the challenge head on.”

In a series of tweets, Gen Robert B. Neller, the highest ranking officer in the US Marine Corps, joined in condemning the behaviour captured by the study.

According to the report, compared with the Navy, Army, Air force and Coast guard, the Marines had the highest rates of sexual assault throughout the US Armed Forces – sitting at 11%.

“Marines know that sexual assault is a crime,” Gen Neller wrote. “We are better than this.”

Democratic Senator and 2020 presidential contender Kirsten Gillibrand also responded on Twitter, calling on Congress to take action where the defence department has “repeatedly failed”.

Sen Gillibrand has been an outspoken advocate of victims of sexual assault and has pressed for legislation to make it easier to prosecute sexual violence in the military.

In her tweets, she cited a 2013 statement from the chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – the highest US military post – that called sexual assault in the military a “crisis”.

Joe Biden scrambles to tamp down Anita Hill controversy

Collage photograph shows Joe Biden and Anita HillThe law professor says Biden needs to apologise to other women and the public

Top White House candidate Joe Biden has denied treating a woman badly when she accused a Supreme Court nominee of harassment before Congress in 1991.

Anita Hill had testified against Clarence Thomas to a committee chaired by Mr Biden. His handling of her evidence has long been criticised.

Speaking on ABC’s the View on Friday, Mr Biden also said that he was “sorry for the way she got treated”.

Ms Hill on Thursday told the New York Times she would not endorse Mr Biden.

The former US vice-president under Barack Obama tried to tamp down the controversy a day after formally launching his White House bid.

Mr Biden has shot to the tip of a crowded field of 20 contenders who are vying to become the Democratic standard-bearer in next year’s election against Republican President Donald Trump.

What’s the Anita Hill row?

Ms Hill said that Mr Biden had called her before announcing his presidential bid and expressed his “regret for what she endured” during the hearing.

But she said that apology was not enough without “real change”.

“I cannot be satisfied by simply saying, ‘I’m sorry for what happened to you,'” Ms Hill, a law professor, told the newspaper.

She added that she could not support Mr Biden unless he showed “real accountability” for his handling of her testimony before Congress in 1991.

During his Friday appearance on The View, Mr Biden – who raised a whopping $6.3m (£4.8m) on the first day of his campaign – was asked about offering a personal apology to Ms Hill.

“I’m sorry for the way she got treated,” Mr Biden responded.

“If you go back and look at what I said or didn’t say, I don’t think I treated her badly.”

In 1991, Ms Hill was called to testify at Mr Thomas’ confirmation hearing after an FBI interview with her was leaked to the press.

The hearing was conducted by an all-white, all-male panel, and several women apparently willing to corroborate Ms Hill’s account were not called to testify by Mr Biden.

Both Ms Hill and Justice Thomas are African-American.

Mr Biden voted to send Justice Thomas’ nomination out of the committee to the Senate floor, then voted against him in the full confirmation vote.

Decades on, the event is considered a political embarrassment for Mr Biden, who remains a favourite to secure the Democratic nomination.

Earlier this month, the former vice-president pledged to be “more mindful” about physical contact with women after seven women accused him of unwelcome physical contact.

Anita Hill testifying in 1991Clarence Thomas was Anita Hill’s supervisor

What about Charlottesville?

Mr Biden has also been reproached by the mother of an anti-racism protester who was killed during a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017.

Susan Bro told the Daily Beast the presidential hopeful had not notified her that he planned to invoke Heather Heyer’s death during his campaign launch video on Thursday.

“Most people do that sort of thing,” she told the Daily Beast. “They capitalise on whatever situation is handy.

“He didn’t reach out to me, and didn’t mention her by name specifically, and he probably knew we don’t endorse candidates.”

In a later interview with CNN, Ms Bro softened her tone, saying she was not particularly upset because “the issue is about the hate, it’s not about Heather”.

Ms Bro added that she had told Mr Biden his video could have traumatised for some Charlottesville survivors.