Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal

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"Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal"
Newsnight episode
Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal.jpg
Presented byEmily Maitlis
Produced bySam McAlister
Cinematography byMark Harrison
Original air date16 November 2019 (2019-11-16)

"Prince Andrew & the Epstein Scandal" is an episode of the BBC's news and current affairs programme Newsnight broadcast on BBC Two on 16 November 2019. In the 58-minute programme, Prince Andrew, Duke of York was interviewed by Emily Maitlis about his relationship with the American convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Andrew's responses in the interview received negative reactions from both the media and the public.[1] In May 2020, it was announced that he would indefinitely withdraw from his public roles.[2]


In March 2011, BBC News reported that the friendship of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, with American financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein was producing "a steady stream of criticism", with calls for him to step down from his role as trade envoy.[3] The Duke was also criticised in the media after his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson disclosed that he helped arrange for Epstein to pay off £15,000 of her debts.[4][5] He had been photographed in December 2010 strolling with Epstein in Central Park during a visit to New York City.[6] In July 2011, the Duke's role as trade envoy was terminated and he reportedly cut all ties with Epstein.[3][7]

On 30 December 2014, a Florida court filing by lawyers Bradley J. Edwards and Paul G. Cassell alleged that Prince Andrew was one of several prominent figures to have participated in sexual activities with a minor later identified as Virginia Giuffre,[8] who was allegedly trafficked for sex by Epstein.[9] Giuffre (then known by her maiden name Virginia Roberts) asserted that she had sex with Andrew on three occasions, including a trip to London in 2001 when she was 17,[10] and later in New York and on Little Saint James, U.S. Virgin Islands.[11] She alleged Epstein paid her $15,000 to have sex with the Duke in London.[10] Flight logs show the Duke and Giuffre were in the places she alleges the sex happened.[12][13] Andrew and Giuffre were also photographed together with his arm round her waist, and an Epstein associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, standing in the background,[14] though the Duke's supporters have repeatedly claimed the photo is fake and edited.[15] Giuffre stated that she was pressured to have sex with Andrew and "wouldn't have dared object" as Epstein, through contacts, could have her "killed or abducted". A civil case filed by Giuffre against Prince Andrew was later settled for an undisclosed sum in February 2022.[16]

In August 2019, court documents associated with a defamation case between Giuffre and Maxwell revealed that a second girl, Johanna Sjoberg, gave evidence alleging that Prince Andrew had placed his hand on her breast while in Epstein's mansion posing for a photo with his Spitting Image puppet.[17] By the end of August 2019, The New Republic also published an email exchange between John Brockman and Evgeny Morozov from September 2013 in which Brockman mentions seeing a British man nicknamed "Andy" receiving a foot massage from two Russian women at Epstein's New York residence in September 2010. He then added that he realised "that the recipient of Irina's foot massage was His Royal Highness, Prince Andrew, the Duke of York".[18]


In November 2019, the BBC's Newsnight arranged an interview between Prince Andrew and Emily Maitlis in which he publicly recounted his dealings with Epstein for the first time. The interview was recorded in Buckingham Palace on 14 November and broadcast on 16 November.[19] Prince Andrew said that he met Epstein in 1999 through Maxwell; this version contradicts the account given by the Duke's private secretary in 2011, who said the two met in "the early 1990s".[20] The Duke said he did not regret his friendship with Epstein, saying "the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful".[21]

Prince Andrew denied having sex with Giuffre on 10 March 2001, as she had claimed, because (he said) he had been at home with his daughters after attending a party at PizzaExpress in Woking with his elder daughter, Princess Beatrice.[22][23] The Duke said that he had "no recollection of ever meeting" Giuffre[24] and that he had "absolutely no memory" of a photograph taken of him with Giuffre at Maxwell's residence in London. The Duke said he had investigations carried out to establish whether the photograph was faked, but they had been inconclusive.[25] He also claimed that he had never been upstairs in Maxwell's house and questioned his attire, saying that the clothes he wore in the photograph were his "travelling clothes" that he did not wear while in the country.[26]

Prince Andrew also added that Giuffre's claims about dancing with him at Tramp while he was sweaty were false, due to him temporarily losing the ability to sweat after an "adrenaline overdose" during the Falklands War.[27] "Several doctors" told The Times they did not believe this explanation, as adrenaline overdose typically causes excessive sweating in humans. It has been previously said that his mother the Queen has not been seen sweating in public, raising the possibility of inherited anhidrosis (although this was not the explanation given by the Duke).[28]

Prince Andrew admitted to staying in Epstein's mansion for three days in 2010, after Epstein's conviction for sex offences against a minor, describing the location as "a convenient place to stay". However, he said, "I kick myself on a daily basis" for the decision "because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family", adding that he "let the side down".[21] The Duke said that he met Epstein for the sole purpose of breaking off any future relationship with him, saying that it was "the honourable and right thing to do", adding that one of his flaws was that he was "too honourable" a person.[29] He also said that, if "push came to shove" (and after consultation with his legal teams), he would be willing to testify under oath regarding his associations with Epstein.[21]


Maitlis and Newsnight believed the interview was approved by the Queen,[30] although "palace insiders" speaking to The Sunday Telegraph disputed this.[31] One of Prince Andrew's official advisors resigned just before the interview was aired.[32] Although the Duke himself was pleased with the outcome of the interview – reportedly giving Maitlis and the Newsnight team a tour of Buckingham Palace[33] – it received negative reactions from both the media and the public, both in and outside the UK. The interview was described as a "car crash", "nuclear explosion level bad"[34][35] and the worst public relations crisis for the royal family since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales.[36]

Hannah Bardell, MP called the interview "sickening" and stated, "Prince Andrew literally has no remorse or regard for the women abused and clearly does not see the problem with being pals with Epstein [...] The systematic abuse of power is unbelievable."[37] The Guardian wrote, "It was an exchange that summed up a grotesque mismatch between the Duke of York's language and demeanour, and the gravity of the allegations which continue to surround him; between the obtuse self-absorption of a prince and what we know of the appalling sexual exploitation of teenage girls by his friend."[38]

On 20 November 2019, a statement from Buckingham Palace announced that Prince Andrew was suspending his public duties "for the foreseeable future". The decision, made with the consent of the Queen, was accompanied by insistence that the Duke sympathised with Epstein's victims.[1] In the days following the interview, Andrew relinquished his role as chancellor of the University of Huddersfield.[39] The accountancy firm KPMG announced it would not be renewing its sponsorship of Andrew's entrepreneurial scheme Pitch@Palace,[40] and Standard Chartered also withdrew its support.[41] The palace later confirmed that Andrew was to step down from all 230 of his patronages.[42]

On 28 January 2020, US Attorney Geoffrey Berman stated that Prince Andrew had provided "zero co-operation" with federal prosecutors and the FBI regarding the ongoing investigations into Epstein, despite his initial promise in the Newsnight interview when he said he was willing to help the authorities.[43] In April 2020, it was reported that the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy would not be played any more, after all activities carried out by the Prince Andrew Charitable Trust were stopped.[44] It was revealed in the next month that the trust was under investigation by the Charity Commission regarding some regulatory issues about £350,000 of payments to his former private secretary Amanda Thirsk.[45] According to The Times, senior personnel in the British Army and Royal Navy considered Andrew to be an embarrassment to the military and believed he should be stripped of his military roles.[46] Newsweek reported that a majority of British citizens believed Andrew should be stripped of his titles and extradited to the United States.[47]

In May 2020, it was announced that Prince Andrew would permanently resign from all his public roles over his Epstein ties.[2]

In 2021, Sigrid McCawley, one of Virginia Giuffre's lawyers, said that she believed the interview would strengthen the case against Andrew in legal action Giuffre was taking against him. McCawley stated that the interview would be part of the case against Andrew.[48] The Kunts published a song ridiculing Andrew's claim that he cannot sweat, and his claim that he was at Pizza Express Woking with the title "Prince Andrew Is a Sweaty Nonce".[49]


Maitlis won the Network Presenter of the Year award at the RTS Television Journalism Awards in 2020, while the interview was awarded as the Interview of the Year and the Scoop of the Year.[50] The episode was also nominated in the news coverage category at the 2020 British Academy Television Awards.[51]

In popular culture[edit]

In July 2022 it was announced that a film would be made of the preparations for the interview and the interview itself. Shooting was planned to start in November 2022. According to Deadline, Scoop is being written by Peter Moffat,[52] and will be directed by Philip Martin.[53]


  1. ^ a b Quinn, Ben (20 November 2019). "Prince Andrew to step back from public duties 'for foreseeable future'". The Guardian. London, England. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
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  3. ^ a b "Prince Andrew: Envoy career plagued with controversy". BBC News. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  4. ^ Swinford, Steven (7 March 2011). "Duchess of York admits Duke arranged for convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to pay off her debts". The Daily Telegraph. London, England. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  5. ^ Bryant, Kenzie (18 September 2019). "Jeffrey Epstein Reportedly Wanted to Sue Sarah Ferguson After She Referred to Him as a Pedophile". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
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  9. ^ Williams, Timothy (6 January 2015). "Alan Dershowitz Denies Suit's Allegations of Sex With a Minor". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 7 January 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Prince Andrew again denies having sex with Epstein victim". AP NEWS. 15 November 2019. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
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  13. ^ Sykes, Tom (20 August 2019). "Flight Logs Reportedly Link Prince Andrew to Alleged Jeffrey Epstein Victim Virginia Roberts". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 4 February 2020.
  14. ^ "The Independent". Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 19 April 2016.
  15. ^ Gardner, Bill (29 August 2019). "Prince Andrew's supporters say his 'chubby' fingers prove photo of him with Epstein victim is fake". The Telegraph. Retrieved 30 August 2019.
  16. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (16 February 2022). "Prince Andrew Settles Lawsuit". Boston Globe: A8.
  17. ^ Bekiempis, Victoria; Waterson, Jim (9 August 2019). "Prince Andrew groped young woman's breast at Epstein house, court files allege". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 August 2019.
  18. ^ Helmore, Edward; Rawlinson, Kevin (22 August 2019). "Prince Andrew was seen getting foot massage from young woman at Epstein's apartment – report". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
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  23. ^ "Prince Andrew denies sex with 17-year-old: 'I went to Pizza Express that day'". Sky News. 16 November 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  24. ^ "Prince Andrew says he has "no recollection" of meeting Epstein accuser" – via
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  26. ^ Evans, Alice (18 November 2019). "Six things we learned from Prince Andrew interview". Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  27. ^ Hamblin, James (18 November 2019). "The Man Who Did Not Sweat". The Atlantic. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  28. ^ Whipple, Tom (18 November 2019). "Why can't Prince Andrew sweat? The answer is anhidrosis". The Times. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  29. ^ Mohdin, Aamna (16 November 2019). "Prince Andrew: I thought staying with Epstein was 'honourable thing'". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  30. ^ "Queen approved Andrew's 'disastrous' interview, Emily Maitlis says". ITV News. 18 November 2019. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  31. ^ Tominey, Camilla; Ward, Victoria (17 November 2019). "Queen did not approve Prince Andrew's excruciating Newsnight interview". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  32. ^ Sandler, Rachel (17 November 2019). "Prince Andrew's PR Advisor Reportedly Quit Over BBC Interview About Jeffrey Epstein". Forbes. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  33. ^ Waterson, Jim (17 November 2019). "'He was incredibly gracious after': Newsnight team say Andrew was pleased with interview". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  34. ^ Adam, Karla (17 November 2019). "Prince Andrew's Epstein interview roundly panned: 'nuclear explosion level bad'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  35. ^ Lewis, Aimee (17 November 2019). "Prince Andrew sparks near-universal condemnation with TV interview". CNN. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
  36. ^ Landler, Mark (20 November 2019). "After Disastrous Epstein Interview, Prince Andrew Steps Down From Public Duties". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  37. ^ Weston, Phoebe (17 November 2019). "'Too stupid to even pretend concern': Prince Andrew slammed for lack of empathy towards Epstein's victims". The Independent. Retrieved 26 November 2021.
  38. ^ "The Guardian view on Prince Andrew: entitled, obtuse and shamefully silent over Epstein's victims". The Guardian. 17 November 2019. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  39. ^ "Prince Andrew quits as University of Huddersfield chancellor". BBC News. 21 November 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  40. ^ Siddique, Haroon; Sundaravelu, Anugraha (18 November 2019). "KPMG ends its backing for Prince Andrew's mentorship scheme". The Guardian.
  41. ^ Quinn, Ben; Waterson, Jim; Otte, Jedidajah (19 November 2019). "Prince Andrew mentor scheme at risk as firms withdraw support". The Guardian.
  42. ^ Booth, Robert (24 November 2019). "Prince Andrew to stand aside from all 230 of his patronages". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2019.
  43. ^ "Jeffrey Epstein accusers outraged by Prince Andrew's 'lack of co-operation'". BBC. 28 January 2020. Retrieved 28 January 2020.
  44. ^ "AXED! - Prince Andrew's junior golf tournament is scrapped". Bunkered. 25 April 2020. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  45. ^ Nikkhah, Roya (10 May 2020). "Prince Andrew Charitable Trust to be wound up amid Charity Commission investigation". The Sunday Times. Retrieved 10 May 2020.
  46. ^ Fisher, Lucy; Low, Valentine (28 November 2019). "Prince Andrew: Strip duke of military roles, urge top brass". The Times.
  47. ^ Royston, Jack (26 June 2020). "Prince Andrew Should Lose Royal Titles, Face Extradition". Newsweek. Retrieved 30 June 2020.
  48. ^ "Prince Andrew asks US judge to dismiss lawsuit alleging sexual abuse". The Guardian. 30 October 2021. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  49. ^ Trendell, Andrew (27 May 2022). "The Kunts on their Jubilee single 'Prince Andrew Is A Sweaty Nonce'". New Musical Express. Archived from the original on 31 May 2022. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  50. ^ "Winners of RTS Television Journalism Awards 2020 announced". Archived from the original on 27 February 2020. Retrieved 27 February 2020.
  51. ^ Kanter, Jake (31 July 2020). "BAFTA TV Awards Winners: Night Of Surprises, As 'Chernobyl' & 'The End Of The F***ing World' Take Two Prizes Each". Deadline. Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  52. ^ Shoard, Catherine (14 July 2022). "Prince Andrew's Newsnight interview to be the subject of a new film". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2023.
  53. ^ Shoard, Catherine (7 February 2023). "Rufus Sewell and Gillian Anderson to star in film about Prince Andrew's Newsnight interview". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 February 2023.

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