ANDREW OUT IN THE COLD
Big business starts cutting ties with prince He’s accused of racial slur And now this Epstein victim says paedophile tried to use duke as lure to island
LEADING businesses and charities began to desert Prince Andrew last night over the Epstein scandal.
On another hugely damaging day for the Duke of York, accountancy firm KPMG said it was protecting its reputation by ending sponsorship of his business start-up project.
Insurance giant Aon asked for its name be removed from the scheme’s website and drugs maker Astrazeneca said it was reviewing its relationship.
A string of major companies and charities are also examining their links with Andrew after his extraordinary TV interview on Saturday.
The Outward Bound Trust, which has the prince’s daughter Beatrice as a trustee, is holding a special meeting this week to discuss the issue.
Andrew appeared on BBC newsnight to answer questions about his relationship with Epstein, a paedophile billionaire who killed himself in jail.
The interview went down spectacularly badly however and the backlash grew yesterday when an Epstein victim went public at a dramatic press conference. She said the financier had tried to lure her to his private island by saying Andrew was there.
Her lawyer joined the international clamour for Andrew to face the US authorities and tell them everything he knows. As representatives of other victims made the same demand:
Prosecutors in France said Andrew should travel to Paris to face questions
about his stay at a mansion flat that Epstein owned there;
Labour and the Lib Dems added to the pressure on Andrew, with one frontbencher calling on him to give evidence to American investigators;
The prince was mired in fresh controversy for allegedly using the n-word – a claim he strongly denied – at a Buckingham Palace meeting with government officials;
Students at the University of Huddersfield announced they will vote on a motion to lobby Andrew to resign as chancellor;
A poll found that just 6 per cent of the public believe his explanation for his relationship with Epstein.
Sources yesterday said the Royal Family has been left reeling by the fallout from the BBC interview and the renewed criticism from Epstein’s victims.
While insiders were keen not to be seen to be criticising Andrew, it was clear that his wider family were ‘aghast’ at the interview and the subsequent reaction. ‘People are shaking their heads and wondering where to go from here,’ said one.
Another former royal aide has called for the prince to ‘take a sabbatical’ before irreversible damage is done to the charities and organisations he works with.
Questions remain as to how much the Queen knew and whether she sanctioned the interview. Palace officials repeated their line that she had been ‘aware’ of the interview but refused to be drawn on whether she had approved it.
On a disastrous day for the eighth in line to the throne pressure centred on the charity that he sees as a lifeline to repairing his public reputation.
During Saturday’s ‘make or break’ appearance on BBC’s Newsnight, Andrew flagged [email protected] – a Dragons’ Den-style scheme for entrepreneurs – as a vital way of reconnecting with the public following the scandal. A royal aide yesterday described it as one of the few ‘real success stories’ of his life. But KPMG, one of Britain’s leading accountancy firms, revealed it had cut ties with the duke. The firm was a founding partner and had paid up to £100,000 a year in sponsorship since 2014.
KPMG bosses decided to end the relationship last month due to ‘unsavoury’ issues stemming from the duke’s friendship with
Epstein. The decision was taken by the firm after consultation with its ‘risk committee’ that considers reputational issues.
Astrazeneca, which is a ‘strategic partner’, said it was reviewing its three-year relationship which is due to end next month.
Aon was listed as the initiative’s sole ‘global partner’ but sources insisted the company was not associated with [email protected] and the listing was an error. It is understood that several firms were prompted to review their relationship with Andrew after he was again accused of having sex with a teenage victim of the billionaire financier earlier this year. He vehemently denies the claims.
A web page advertising [email protected]’s sponsors was removed from the internet yesterday afternoon. The project has helped 931 businesses, created 5,982 jobs and generated £1.105billion of economic activity, according to Andrew’s team.
The Daily Mail yesterday contacted many other multinational companies linked to the scheme, including the bank Standard Chartered and Air Asia. But none gave their backing to the duke and instead refused to comment on their links. A KPMG spokesman refused to comment last night.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: ‘KPMG’s contract with [email protected] ended at the end of October. A full programme of [email protected] events is continuing across the United Kingdom.’
‘Reconnecting with the public’
Accuser: The woman, now 31, who said she was invited to meet Andrew