THE BANNED OLD DUKE OF YORK

■ ANDREW IS FORCED TO STEP DOWN OVER LINKS TO CON­VICTED PAE­DOPHILE ■ SAYS HE IS READY TO CO-OP­ER­ATE WITH IN­VES­TI­GA­TIONS INTO EP­STEIN

Metro (UK) - - FRONT PAGE - By ai­dan Radnedge

PRINCE ANDREW stepped down from royal du­ties last night as pres­sure mounted on him over the Jef­frey Ep­stein child sex scan­dal.

The Duke of York re­vealed he would stay away from his pub­lic role for the ‘fore­see­able fu­ture’, with his mother the Queen’s bless­ing.

He also of­fered to co-op­er­ate with any in­ves­ti­ga­tions into pae­dophile bil­lion­aire Ep­stein, who killed him­self three months ago while in cus­tody over sex traf­fick­ing al­le­ga­tions.

The an­nounce­ment came af­ter an­other day of tur­moil for the prince.

More or­gan­i­sa­tions he has worked with dis­tanced them­selves from him.

And a let­ter that sur­faced, writ­ten by his for­mer pri­vate sec­re­tary, said he met Ep­stein years ear­lier than he claimed he did in his car-crash BBC in­ter­view on Satur­day. The royal said: ‘It has be­come clear to me over the last few days that the cir­cum­stances re­lat­ing to my for­mer as­so­ci­a­tion with Jef­frey Ep­stein has be­come a ma­jor dis­rup­tion to my fam­ily’s work and the valu­able work go­ing on in the many or­gan­i­sa­tions and char­i­ties that I am proud to sup­port.

‘There­fore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from pub­lic du­ties for the fore­see­able fu­ture, and she has given her per­mis­sion.’

Af­ter Ep­stein vic­tims urged the prince to speak to the FBI, he said he was ‘will­ing to help any ap­pro­pri­ate law en­force­ment agency with their

in­ves­ti­ga­tions, if re­quired’. The Falk­lands War vet­eran added: ‘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.’

The prince agreed to the in­ter­view with BBC News­night in a bid to lay to rest claims that he had sex three times with Amer­i­can Vir­ginia Roberts Gi­uf­fre when she was 17 and al­legedly Ep­stein’s ‘sex slave’.

But it back­fired af­ter he of­fered no words of sym­pa­thy for Ep­stein’s vic­tims.

He said he re­gret­ted go­ing to stay with the fi­nancier in New York in 2010 af­ter his host had done jail time for procur­ing an un­der­age girl for pros­ti­tu­tion.

But he was con­demned for say­ing he did not re­gret their friend­ship as a whole. And he was mocked for say­ing he could not have had sex with Ms Roberts Gi­uf­fre on March 10, 2001, as he dis­tinctly re­mem­bered be­ing at Pizza Ex­press in Wok­ing, Sur­rey.

The prince has al­ways de­nied all the al­le­ga­tions made by Ms Roberts Gi­uf­fre.

In the days af­ter the in­ter­view, a string of or­gan­i­sa­tions said they would re­view or end their in­volve­ment with Andrew’s Pitch@Palace scheme for tech en­trepreneur­s. Three Aus­tralian uni­ver­si­ties walked away yesterday as bank­ing gi­ant Bar­clays said it was con­sid­er­ing whether to con­tinue. And BT warned it would only go on back­ing a dig­i­tal skills award scheme if the prince was dropped as pa­tron. Mean­while, a let­ter pub­lished by The Times in 2011 came to light. Writ­ten by Andrew’s then-pri­vate sec­re­tary Alas­tair Wat­son, it ad­dressed ‘wide­spread com­ment’ about the royal’s links to Ep­stein and men­tioned that they had known each other since be­ing in­tro­duced in the early 1990s. The prince claimed in his in­ter­view with

Emily Maitlis that he first met Ep­stein in 1999.

Andrew’s for­mer wife the Duchess of York yesterday said she was out of the UK over the last fort­night and had noth­ing to do with the News­night in­ter­view.

She had ap­peared to show sup­port for her ex’s ef­forts to ad­dress the al­le­ga­tions about him by prais­ing him on so­cial me­dia on Friday. But she is said to have told friends the in­ter­view was a dis­as­ter and blamed the prince’s pri­vate sec­re­tary Amanda Thirsk for en­cour­ag­ing him to give it.

Andrew be­comes the first se­nior royal to step down over a scan­dal dur­ing his mother’s 67-year reign. The Queen looked in good spir­its last night as she pre­sented Sir David At­ten­bor­ough with the Chatham House Prize for his work high­light­ing the prob­lem of plas­tic pol­lu­tion.

PIC­TURE: BBC

Queen’s con­sent: Andrew asked to step aside

Friends: Prince Andrew with Jef­frey Ep­stein in 2010

Con­victed of­fender: Jef­frey Ep­stein

Bow­ing out: Andrew’s an­nounce­ment

PIC­TURES: BBC/GETTY

PR dis­as­ter: Andrew is in­ter­viewed by Emily Maitlis and (in­set) Mon­day’s Metro front page

Car­ry­ing on: Queen and Sir David At­ten­bor­ough at Chatham House in London last night

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