I DON’T RE­CALL HIS VISIT

EXCLUSIVE In his own damn­ing words, Bri­tain’s ex-con­sul gen­eral in New York – who An­drew claimed to have stayed with on fate­ful trip – casts doubt on duke’s al­ibi. And just hours af­ter Mail presents ev­i­dence to Palace, prince quits

Scottish Daily Mail - - Outcast Andrew - By Glen Keogh and Guy Adams

WHEN you’re ac­cused of hav­ing sex with a teenager traf­ficked to the home of a bil­lion­aire pae­dophile with whom you spend ex­tended pe­ri­ods, it pays to have a rock-solid al­ibi. So on Satur­day, when Prince An­drew was asked about claims that, in April 2001, he slept with a 17-year-old girl called Vir­ginia Roberts at the New York lair of pro­lific child-abuser Jef­frey Ep­stein, he came out all guns blaz­ing.

‘I think the date we have for that shows that I was in Bos­ton or I was in New York the pre­vi­ous day, and I was at a din­ner for the Out­ward Bound Trust in New York and then I flew up to Bos­ton the fol­low­ing day,’ he told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis.

While the Prince con­fessed that he ‘prob­a­bly did’ look in on Ep­stein at some stage dur­ing the trip, he vig­or­ously de­nied stay­ing overnight at the fi­nancier’s seven-storey town­house, which was dec­o­rated with pieces of erotic art­work, in­clud­ing a pair of pros­thetic breasts mounted on a bath­room wall.

‘Be­cause of what I was do­ing, I was stay­ing with the con­sul-gen­eral, which is fur­ther down the street [from Ep­stein’s home],’ he de­clared in the BBC in­ter­view. ‘So I wasn’t stay­ing there [at Ep­stein’s home]. I may have vis­ited but no, def­i­nitely didn’t, def­i­nitely, def­i­nitely, no, no, no ac­tiv­ity.’

All well and good... were it not for an awk­ward fact. The prince’s rec­ol­lec­tion of events seems at odds with that of the con­sul-gen­eral in ques­tion, Sir Thomas Har­ris.

One of the most high-fly­ing and re­spected Bri­tish diplo­mats of his gen­er­a­tion, Sir Thomas, who served in New York from 1999 to 2004, tells the Mail that de­spite An­drew’s tele­vised claims, the re­tired diplo­mat has ‘no rec­ol­lec­tion’ of the prince stay­ing at his of­fi­cial res­i­dence dur­ing the trip. ‘It doesn’t sound as if he stayed with me,’ he said yes­ter­day. ‘I don’t re­call him stay­ing with me.’

Sir Thomas, 74, ad­mit­ted he no longer had a copy of his 2001 di­ary, so was un­able to be cer­tain about com­ings and go­ings that oc­curred at his of­fi­cial res­i­dence, an apart­ment just off Cen­tral Park, 18 years ago.

How­ever, he pointed out that overnight stays by Prince An­drew and other se­nior roy­als at a con­sul-gen­eral’s res­i­dence tend to be for­mally reg­is­tered in the Court Cir­cu­lar, as are as­so­ci­ated din­ner par­ties. No such stays were chron­i­cled in the Court Cir­cu­lar for the cru­cial dates of April 9-11 2001, when the duke was car­ry­ing out for­mal en­gage­ments in the US.

‘Nor­mally, I would give him a din­ner party in the evening,’ he said, not­ing that the ab­sence of records of such an event ‘makes me sus­pect he wasn’t with me that night’.

‘If he stayed with me, we would nor­mally ar­range for busi­nesses to come in. My un­der­stand­ing is that it would be in the Court Cir­cu­lar. I was led to be­lieve that was the nor­mal form. If you go through the Court Cir­cu­lar, you will come across the other vis­its he paid to New York. That was the typ­i­cal pat­tern.’

SIR Thomas said he could, for ex­am­ple, vividly re­mem­ber Prince An­drew vis­it­ing in Oc­to­ber 2001, shortly af­ter the 9/11 ter­ror at­tacks. That visit was in­deed reg­is­tered in the Court Cir­cu­lar at the time, along with other trips in Oc­to­ber 2000 and Septem­ber 2002, dur­ing which it was noted that the diplo­mat ‘re­ceived’ the Queen’s son.

How­ever, he in­sisted: ‘I have no rec­ol­lec­tion of him stay­ing at the ad­dress in April. I don’t have a note of the dates of all the vis­its – the Palace will. It doesn’t ring any bell what­so­ever.’

All very mys­te­ri­ous – not to men­tion some­what awk­ward, given that An­drew has staked a hefty por­tion of what re­mains of his rep­u­ta­tion on hav­ing a per­fect mem­ory of events that oc­curred dur­ing the Easter 2001 trip.

The three days he spent on of­fi­cial busi­ness in New York and Bos­ton are, af­ter all, at the heart of the in­creas­ingly tawdry scan­dal sur­round­ing the duke’s re­la­tion­ship with Ep­stein. It is dur­ing this very short pe­riod that Mrs Roberts claims that one of their three al­leged sex­ual en­coun­ters oc­curred, in an up­stairs room at Ep­stein’s man­sion. What we do know, from of­fi­cial records, is that An­drew did in­deed fly to New York from Lon­don on the morn­ing of Mon­day, April 9, mean­ing he’d have ar­rived around lunchtime.

His first for­mal en­gage­ment wasn’t un­til the fol­low­ing morn­ing, when he toured a school and took a lunch meet­ing at the of­fices of The New York Times. That evening he flew to Bos­ton, where he stayed at the of­fi­cial res­i­dence of the city’s con­sul-gen­eral, Ge­orge Fer­gus­son.

On Wed­nes­day, April 11, the duke at­tended sev­eral events in Bos­ton or­gan­ised by the Out­ward Bound

Trust, of which he’s a trustee. He flew back to New York that af­ter­noon. He then dis­ap­peared from view, and didn’t carry out another of­fi­cial en­gage­ment un­til April 19, when he popped up in Korea.

What the Court Cir­cu­lar failed to record, of course, is where ex­actly An­drew stayed on the nights of April 9 and 11, 2011 – or what he got up to dur­ing the many gaps in his sched­ule.

In­trigu­ingly, how­ever, the trip was the sub­ject of an ex­tended ar­ti­cle in the Mail on Sun­day news­pa­per the fol­low­ing week, dur­ing which the prince’s of­fice is quoted as say­ing that ‘he spent one night in New York as a guest of the con­sul-gen­eral and the sec­ond “pri­vately”’.

A month later, in May 2001, the

Mail on Sun­day car­ried a sec­ond ar­ti­cle about An­drew’s bur­geon­ing friend­ship with Ep­stein, claim­ing that the night he spent ‘pri­vately’ had ac­tu­ally been at the pae­dophile’s vast home.

It con­tin­ued: ‘For the past two years, his home-away-from-home in Man­hat­tan has been a gaudi­ly­dec­o­rated man­sion ac­quired some years ago through a com­pany ap­par­ently con­trolled by Ep­stein. Only last month, the prince let him­self in there for a night dur­ing an unan­nounced break from a visit to do good works for Amer­ica’s Out­ward Bound pro­gramme.’

Today, both these con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous re­ports make in­trigu­ing read­ing. For they are com­pletely at odds with what Prince An­drew so con­fi­dently told News­night had oc­curred dur­ing the New York trip, when he in­sisted that he spent both nights at the of­fi­cial res­i­dence.

And other se­ri­ous ques­tions are al­ready being asked about his de­scrip­tion of the visit. For ex­am­ple, yes­ter­day’s Daily Tele­graph quoted an of­fi­cial who trav­elled with the duke ad­mit­ting there were ‘pos­si­ble gaps’ in his itin­er­ary when a visit to Ep­stein’s house could have taken place.

What we are able to prove be­yond rea­son­able doubt is that Vir­ginia Roberts cer­tainly was in New York at the same time as the duke.

Flight logs of Ep­stein’s pri­vate jet, nick­named the ‘Lolita Ex­press’ show that on April 9, she flew from

Florida to Teter­boro, a pri­vate air­port 12 miles from Man­hat­tan. She stayed there un­til the 11th, when the jet took her to St Thomas, the air­port Ep­stein used near his pri­vate Caribbean is­land.

At least one wit­ness has also come for­ward to say she saw Roberts and Prince An­drew to­gether at Ep­stein’s house one af­ter­noon dur­ing the visit. She is Jo­hanna Sjoberg, a young girl who was also abused by Ep­stein. In 2007, af­ter Ep­stein’s con­vic­tion for child sex of­fences, she gave a news­pa­per in­ter­view say­ing she had wit­nessed an ex­tra­or­di­nary en­counter be­tween the duo in the liv­ing room of the pae­dophile’s man­sion, dur­ing which she said the duke had groped her breast. She said Prince An­drew was there with Ghis­laine Maxwell, Ep­stein’s girl­friend and al­leged ac­com­plice, along with ‘a cou­ple of other girls my age’.

She added: ‘An­drew was very charm­ing. I didn’t know ex­actly who he was, but felt that I knew him. She [Ghis­laine] came down with a present for him – a la­tex pup­pet of him from Spit­ting Im­age.

‘The room was very large, con­sid­er­ing it was Man­hat­tan. It was on East 71, with four floors. It was beau­ti­ful, like a mu­seum.

‘We had a pic­ture taken. Vir­ginia, another girl there, sat on a chair and had the pup­pet on her lap. An­drew sat on another chair, I sat on his lap – and he put his hand on my breast. Ghis­laine put the pup­pet’s hand on

Vir­ginia’s breast, then An­drew put his hand on mine. It was a great joke. Ev­ery­body laughed.’

At the time of the in­ter­view, the palace de­clined to com­ment. Four years later, in 2011, Roberts her­self told a re­porter about the event.

‘An­drew was sit­ting there in a big leather arm­chair be­hind which there was a desk cov­ered with pho­tos of girls and young women in­clud­ing one of me,’ she re­called.

‘I was almost nude in the pic­ture. I don’t think An­drew could have missed see­ing it. Ghis­laine had just given him a present... his Spit­ting Im­age pup­pet. He was smil­ing ear to ear. He looked like a kid whose par­ents were tak­ing him to Dis­ney World.’

Af­ter being made to sit on the duke’s knee with Sjoberg, Roberts al­leged that she was in­structed to sleep with him, adding: ‘Ghis­laine said, “You should take him up­stairs for a mas­sage”. I took him up­stairs to the Dun­geon. He un­dressed and lay face down on the ta­ble. I started with his feet, then his calves the way Jef­frey liked it.’

This time there was no extra pay­ment for the ses­sion, she added. ‘Be­cause I wasn’t on the road, I just got my usual hourly rate, which at that time was $200.’

Roberts and Sjoberg re­peated the claims un­der oath in le­gal de­po­si­tions that be­came pub­lic in 2015 and this Au­gust re­spec­tively.

In­trigu­ingly, they claim that the in­ci­dent took place dur­ing the day­time, a highly im­por­tant de­tail which ren­ders Prince An­drew’s sup­posed al­ibi re­dun­dant.

For even if the Duke had been stay­ing overnight at the Bri­tish con­sul-gen­eral’s res­i­dence, the property was a mere seven-minute walk from Ep­stein’s man­sion, mak­ing it en­tirely pos­si­ble for him to have popped over one af­ter­noon.

In­deed, Sir Thomas ac­knowl­edges that even if the prince had vis­ited his apart­ment briefly on ar­rival in New York, he would have been free to come and go as he pleased when not on of­fi­cial busi­ness. ‘If there was free time he had an hour or so in the af­ter­noon if he de­cided to go off with his de­tec­tive to have a walk around Cen­tral Park,’ he said. ‘I know what you’re get­ting at and I’m not go­ing to deny there may have been oc­ca­sions when he went out to have a walk in the park or to do some­thing else, but it wasn’t nor­mal form. I wasn’t sup­posed to be keep­ing tabs on ev­ery distin­guished vis­i­tor. If he came to do other things pri­vately I wouldn’t have been in­volved.’

Buck­ing­ham Palace in­sisted last night that Prince An­drew did not stay with Ep­stein on ei­ther April 9 or 11. In a state­ment, it said: ‘The Duke’s words from his in­ter­view speak for them­selves and HRH stands by his rec­ol­lec­tions.’

The palace is­sued ex­actly the same re­sponse yes­ter­day to the BBC, when it came across ev­i­dence cast­ing doubt on another one of An­drew’s key ‘rec­ol­lec­tions’.

DuR­ING the TV in­ter­view, the prince claimed to have first met Ep­stein in 1999. But the BBC found a 2011 let­ter to the me­dia from his then pri­vate sec­re­tary, Alis­tair Wat­son, in­sist­ing that the duke had known Ep­stein ‘since being in­tro­duced to him in the early 1990s’. Ob­vi­ously, it’s im­pos­si­ble for both ver­sions of events to have been true.

We must also as­sume, since he’s not re­tracted them, that HRH also ‘stands by’ other im­por­tant al­i­bis on which he staked his in­no­cence.

For ex­am­ple, he al­leged dur­ing the BBC in­ter­view that tes­ti­mony by Roberts de­scrib­ing him as ‘sweaty’ must be un­true, since he has a med­i­cal con­di­tion which means he can­not sweat.

But news out­lets un­earthed a pho­to­graph of him ap­pear­ing to sweat pro­fusely as he left the night­club Chi­nawhite in 2001.

An­drew also claimed that he and his ex-wife ar­ranged their di­aries at the time to en­sure at least one of them was al­ways in the uK and able to look af­ter their daugh­ters.

He ar­gued that this made it im­pos­si­ble for him to have en­coun­tered Mrs Roberts on a night when she claims he slept with her in Lon­don. How­ever, the Mail has found sev­eral ex­am­ples of oc­ca­sions dur­ing that pe­riod when the prince and the duchess were both over­seas.

With so many al­i­bis seem­ingly in tat­ters, and others crum­bling, it was per­haps un­sur­pris­ing that the prince should choose to an­nounce his with­drawal from pub­lic du­ties last night. Whether that will end foren­sic scru­tiny of his friend­ship with Ep­stein, not to men­tion his links to the pae­dophile’s teenage sex slaves, is another mat­ter.

Wave: An­drew at Ep­stein’s New York house. Left, for­mer res­i­dence of the Bri­tish con­sul-gen­eral in Man­hat­tan So­cia­ble: An­drew with Sir Thomas Har­ris in Oc­to­ber 2001, and Cather­ine Meyer, wife of the UK am­bas­sador

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