Duke of York facing barrage of criticism following Epstein interview

The Duke of York is facing a barrage of criticism following his television interview about the Jeffrey Epstein sex scandal, with the royal accused of a lack of empathy with the victims.

Andrew's attempt to set the record straight about his relationship with the convicted sex offender – and counter allegations he slept with one of Epstein's groomed teenagers – has been widely condemned for its unsympathetic tone and lack of remorse for the friendship.

Green Party co-leader Sian Berry said the duke's interview for a special Saturday edition of BBC's Newsnight programme was not "very empathetic" with the teenage girls preyed on by the disgraced financier.

Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein died in his cell (New York State Sex Offender Registry/AP)

Commentators are questioning Andrew's decision to speak in depth for the first time about the allegations and his 10-year friendship with Epstein, with one calling it an "appalling lack of judgment" and another saying his responses lacked conviction.

A legal expert said being a member of the monarchy did not give the duke a get out clause from being prosecuted in the US, and he was "unwise" to have given a detailed account of his actions to the media.

Ms Berry, asked about the interview on Sky News' Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, said: "The Me Too movement, it's thrown up so many incidents of women being exploited and abused by men in positions of power and when there are allegations like this they do need answering no matter who someone is."

Speaking about the royal family's accountability, she added: "I think they need to be accountable as anybody else. And I think it's right that he has answered these questions on the interview, although I wasn't particularly convinced, I think we need to have more from him on this as well."

She added: "It wasn't a very empathetic interview, if that's an okay thing to say, with the victims, and I think he should have been more apologetic..."

Jeffrey EPstein death
The Duke of York (Steve Parsons/PA)

During the interview, Andrew, questioned by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, twice stated his relationship with Epstein, who died in jail while facing sex trafficking charges, had some "seriously beneficial outcomes", giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.

The duke denied he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage, saying one 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.

Jeffrey Epstein death
The Pizza Express restaurant in Woking (Andrew Matthews/PA)

The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was factually wrong as the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.

He cast doubt on the authenticity of a picture that appears to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of Mrs Giuffre, when a teenager.

The royal said: "... 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."

The duke said the whole episode had not been damaging to the Queen, only to himself, and that the wider royal family "couldn't be more supportive".

He expressed regret at making contact with Epstein in 2010 – flying to New York to say in person the friendship was over – after the 66-year-old had been released from an 18-month prison term for prostituting minors.

But Maitlis highlighted how he spent a number of days with him at his home, and how he was guest of honour at a dinner party she said celebrated Epstein's release.

Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine, told BBC Radio 4's World at One programme that in the wake of the interview, Andrew could find himself out of the core royal family, if reports are correct that the monarchy will be slimmed down when the Prince of Wales becomes king.

She said: "It was a very probing interview he's not used to being questioned in that way and I think he seemed unable to really answer her questions with any conviction, I think myself and most other people think that the interview was a mistake."

Ms Seward added: "I think the Duke of York is very anxious to carry on with the work that he's doing, but of course he's totally smeared by this Epstein business and until that is dealt with I think he's going to find it very hard to carry on as normal.

"He will of course, because that's what people do, but I think it's always going to be in the background."

She went on to say: "I think if there's a slimmed down monarchy I very much feel Andrew won't be a huge part in it."

Anna Rothwell, from criminal law firm Corker Binning, said: "Prince Andrew is not entitled to any form of immunity by virtue of his position as a member of the Royal family. His friendship with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is under investigation by the FBI and he is vulnerable to extradition.

"It is therefore very unwise for the prince to give any account to the media, especially one which so starkly exposes the closeness of his relationship with Epstein, and again betrays yet another appalling lack of judgment."

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Sarah, Duchess of York and The Duke of York arriving during day four of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
The Duke and Duchess of York leaving Portland Hospital in London with their first child four-day old Princess Beatrice.
File photo dated 23/07/1986 of Prince Andrew and his bride Sarah Ferguson waving to crowds as they leave Westminster Abbey, London after their wedding ceremony. When Princess Eugenie's parents married, Britain was in the grip of "Fergie Fever".
Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson (left) with the Duke of York in the parade ring during day four of Royal Ascot 2016, at Ascot Racecourse.
Sarah Ferguson, Jack Brooksbank, Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Princess Eugenie attend Day 4 of Royal Ascot on June 19, 2015.
Princess Beatrice of York (second left) Sarah Ferguson (centre), Princess Eugenie of York (second from right) and Prince Andrew, Duke of York (right) during day four of the 2015 Royal Ascot Meeting at Ascot Racecourse, Berkshire.
The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew at the finish of the 2010 London Marathon, on the Mall in central London.
The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew at the finish of the 2010 London Marathon, on the Mall in central London.
Major Ron Ferguson walks with his daughter, Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew and their children, Beatrice and Eugenie, at Windsor Horse show. Full length, suit, blue dress, children, royals ©Anwar Hussein/allaction.co.uk
The Duke and Duchess of York arriving at All Saints Church in Odiham in Hampshire, for the Service of Thanksgiving and funeral of Major Ron Ferguson.
Princess Eugenie arrives with her parents, the Duke and Duchess of York, for her first day at St George's School, Windsor. Eugenie, 11, a granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, is a day pupil at the school, where she is expected to stay for two years. * before moving on to a senior school, possibly joining her sister, Princess Beatrice, 13, at St George's, Ascot. 06/11/02 The Duke told how Eugenie, now 12, is two inches taller after an operation to correct curvature of her spine while chatting to a 12-year-old hospital patient on a visit to the Uruguayan capital Montevideo.
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The Duke and Duchess of York, with their two daughters Beatrice (L) and Eugenie, arriving for the European Premiere of "102 Dalmations" at the Odeon cinema, in Leicester Square, London.
Princess Beatrice, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of York arrives for her first day at St George's School in Ascot, Berkshire, with her parents the Duke and Duchess of York.
The Duke and Duchess of York sit with their children Beatrice (Left) and Eugenie (Right) while they await the start of the tennis in the grounds of Buckingham Palace. The Duke of York organised the charity tennis event, to raise money for the NSPCC.
The Duke and Duchess of York arriving at the Serpentine Gallery 30th Anniversary Gala Dinner, in London. The Duchess is wearing a dress by Ben de Lisi.
The Duke of York celebrating his 40th birthday high above London in one of the gondolas of the Millennium Wheel with his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York, with whom he is still very close, and their daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. *The busy birthday is indicative of the Duke, who has said he is convinced that life really does begin at 40.
The Duke and Duchess of York arrive with their daughters, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie (left), at the Warner Village, Leicester Square, for the Royal charity premiere of The Iron Giant. * An animated film, based on the short story by the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, which tells the story of a massive robot who falls to earth and is befriended by a lonely nine-year-old boy.
The Duke and Duchess of York arriving at Blakes Hotel in London, to attend a party in celebration of the Duchess's 40th birthday.
The Duke of York with his arm round the Duchess of York with Princess Eugenie, after the Duke joined the Duchess of York and their two children Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice in the Swiss ski resort of Verbier to celebrate his 39th birthday (19/2/99).
The Duke and Duchess of York (who are divorced) with their children Beatrice (r) and Eugenie, during a photocall in Verbier. The Duke, who celebrates his 39th birthday today, is on a sking holiday with his family.
Library file, dated 22/2/97.The Duke and Duchess of York, with their children Princess's Beatrice (right) and Eugenie, and the mother of the Duchess, Susan Barrantes, during a skiing trip in the Swiss resort of Verbier: It was announced today (Sunday) that Susan Barrantes has been killed in a car crash in Argentina. See PA story DEATH Barrantes. PHOTOGRAPH BY JOHN STILLWELL/PA.
The Duke and Duchess of York arriving at Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey, with their daughters Princesses Beatrice (right) and Eugenie, for the Duchess of York's fifth Charity Golf tournament in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association. y ROYAL Golf.
The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughters Princesses Beatrice (left) and Eugenie, at Wentworth Golf Club, Surrey, for the Duchess of York's fifth charity golf tournament in aid of the Motor Neurone Disease Association.
The Duke of York with Sarah, Duchess of York,and their daughters Princess Eugenie (left) and Beatrice, during the Pro-Celebrity Golf Tournament at Wentworth today (Monday) to celebrates the 5 anniversary of Children in Crisis. Photo by Andrew Stuart/PA
The Duke and Duchess of York and their children Beatrice and Eugenie arrive at the Pro-Celebrity Golf Tournament at Wentworth today (Monday) to celebrate the 5 anniversary of Children in Crisis. Photo by Andrew Stuart/PA
The Duchess of York with former husband the Duke of York, during a photocall with their daughters Princesses Beatrice (right), nine, and seven-year-old Eugenie in Verbier, Switzerland today (Thursday). PA PIC NEIL MUNNS. See PA Story ROYAL Duchess. 07/03/98: The Princesses could be stripped of their HRH titles in a round of reforms to further modernise the monarchy, announced today (Saturday). The proposals include restricting the style His or Her Royal Highness to senior royals; confirming that bowing and curtseying to royals is not compulsory; and finally closing the door on palace grace-and-favour accommodation. See PA Story ROYAL Reform.
The Duke and Duchess of York and their daughters Princess Beatrice (2nd left) and Eugene arrive at Westminster Abbey for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales today (Sat).
The Duke and Duchess of York were reunited briefly today (Monday) at a charity golf match in aid of motor neurone disease. They posed together for photographers with their daughters the Princesses Beatrice (left) and Eugenie at Wentworth Golf Course in Surrey. Photo by John Stillwell. See PA Story ROYAL York.
The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughter's Beatrice (right) and Eugenie on the Swiss ski slopes above, the ski resort of Verbier. Photo by John Stillwell/PA.
The Duke and Duchess of York appearing together for the first time sinc etheir decree absolute was finalised. they and their daughters were at wentworth golf club for a charity event for motor neuron disease association.
The Duke of York gives his wife a kiss at Wentworth golf club where he took part in a pro-am golf tournament in aid of motor neuron disease association- of which the Duchess of York is president.
The Duke and Duchess of York and their youngest daughter Princess Eugenie enjoy the events of sports day at Upton House School, Windsor which is attended by their other daughter Princess Beatrice.
The Duke and Duchess of York attending the Royal Windsor Horse Show with their daughters Princess Beatrice (left) and Eugenie. 16/04/1996 : The couple announced that their marriage is to be formally ended in divorce, following more than two years separation.
The Duke and Duchess of York enjoy the events of sports day at Upton House School, Windsor which is attended by their daughter Princess Beatrice.
The Duke and Duchess of York board HMS Cambeltown at Portsmouth Harbour prior to a days sailing in the channel with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Duke and Duchess of York onboard HMS Cambeltown in Portsmouth Harbour prior to a days sailing in the channel with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Duke and Duchess of York at Heathrow Airport with their two daughters, Beatrice (in the Duchess's arms) and Eugenie (in the cot). The Duchess flew out to see her stepfather in Argentina, who is diagnosed as having lymphatic cancer.
The Duke and Duchess of York pause outside the Portland Hospital in London with the duchess holding their new daughter Princess Eugenie Vistoria Helena.
The Duke and Duchess of York with their daughter Princess Beatrice at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
The Duke and Duchess of York during a tour of USS Nimitz, on their 'Buy British' tour of California.
The Duke and Duchess of York dressed in period costumes at the replica Klondike village in Port Edmonton, Alberta during their first official tour together in Canada before setting off on a two-week canoeing holiday in the Wild North West Territories
The Duke and Duchess of York applaud competitors taking part in games for the physically disabled at the Ontario Games in Toronto during their offical 12-day visit to Canada.
The newly created Duke of York and Duchess of York wave from the balcony of Buckingham Palace after their marriage at Westminster Abbey.
The newly-wed Duke and Duchess of York wave as they board the jet at Heathrow Airport, London, carrying them to the Azores for their honeymoon.
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