PRINCE Andrew says he doesn’t regret his friendship with paedo Jeffrey Epstein because he met ‘useful’ people through him.
The Duke of York said he ended his friendship with the disgraced millionaire in December 2010 – when the infamous photo of the pair walking through Central Park was snapped.
In a bombshell interview tonight at Buckingham Palace, the 59-year-old was grilled by BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis on his links with Epstein, who he refers to as "Jeffery".
When asked if he regrets that trip to New York he said: “Yes.”
Ms Maitlis then asks if the Queen’s third child regrets his entire friendship with convicted sex offender.
He said: “Now, still not and the reason being is that 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.”
Prince Andrew also says he has no memory of ever meeting his sex accuser Virginia Roberts who alleges she was paedo Jeffrey Epstein's sex slave.
The Duke of York also sensationally claims in tonight's bombshell BBC Newsnight interview he was being "too honourable" by staying with Epstein – but insisted it was "convenient" for him.
The grovelling Duke of York has apologised for his friendship with the millionaire saying he "let the side down" in an explosive 'unvetted' question interview with BBC's Emily Maitlis.
Andrew remained close to the US tycoon after his first conviction in 2008 – but insists he “no recollection” of meeting Ms Roberts, who claims they had sex three times.
Ms Roberts claims she had sex with the prince aged 17 – which he strongly denies.
Andrew was infamously pictured with his arm around her at Ghislaine Maxwell's home in London in 2001.
However, royal officials have cast doubt on the infamous 2001 photo – claiming it was faked because the prince has fatter fingers in real life.
But the prince claims in the bombshell interview, which airs tonight at 9pm, he doesn't ever remember meeting the alleged sex slave.
Ms Maitlis asks: "She says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at Tramp nightclub in London.
"She went on to have sex with you in a house in Belgravia belonging to Ghislaine Maxwell, your friend. Your response?"
"I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever", Andrew replies.
Asked again, “You don’t remember meeting her,” he affirms: “No.”
Who is Virginia Roberts?
- Mum-of-three Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, 36, has alleged that she was procured by Ghislaine Maxwell – Epstein’s ex-lover – to work as a 'sex slave'
- Ms Roberts alleges she met Ms Maxwell while working at Donald Trump's Mar-aLago resprt in Florida.
- Legal documents from a 2015 defamation case – released the day before Epstein killed himself – featured claims that Prince Andrew slept with Ms Roberts three times.
- The Duke of York strongly denies the allegations of sexual misconduct made against him.
- Giuffre says her account is '99 per cent true' but her own former lawyers have described it as 'fictionalised.'
- She claims she first met royal dad-of-two Prince Andrew on a trip to London in 2001 when she was 17 and Epstein and Maxwell were also there.
In 2015, a US judge struck out Ms Roberts' allegations against Andrew for being "immaterial and impertinent".
Buckingham Palace has previously said: “It is emphatically denied that the Duke had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
The Duke was last pictured with Epstein in New York in 2010 after the hedge fund manager had been released from prison and was a registered sex offender.
In what is the most astonishing royal TV moment since Princess Diana spoke about the breakdown of her and Prince Charles’ marriage, Andrew told Ms Maitlis he stayed with Epstein in his Manhattan mansion after his paedo pal was released from jail for "convenience".
Prince Andrew told Newsight how he “kicks himself daily” for staying pals with US paedophile Epstein.
And, Andrew admits he was wrong to keep in contact.
He said: "It was a convenient place to stay. I mean I've gone through this in my mind so many times.
"At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do.
"But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that's just the way it is."
'I KICK MYSELF'
Speaking inside Buckingham Palace, he told Ms Maitlis: “The problem was the fact that once he had been convicted I stayed with him, and that’s the bit that, as it were, I kick myself on a daily basis, because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family.
“We try and uphold the highest standards, and I let the side down. Simple as that.”
The embattled Duke of York has faced continued scrutiny over his relationship with Epstein, who hanged himself while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges.
In tonight's interview, the Queen's third child will also talk about the impact on him, his ex-wife Sarah Ferugson, and their daughters Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie.
The Duchess of York defended Andrew as "a giant of a principled man" ahead of the interview.
Fergie, who she has remained close to since their divorce, wrote a message of support on Instagram saying he was a "true and real gentleman" and that she she was with him "every step of the way".
The 60-year-old also tweeted in supported him along with a series of pictures of Andrew.
Princess Eugenie was snapped today looking glum as she flew into JFK airport in New York.
Sources close to Andrew say he has recently felt backed into a corner by spiralling rumours and the claims made by Roberts. He began to fear it could damage his charity work if he did not address them head on.
A senior official said the decision to speak to the BBC was taken with the Queen’s knowledge — and that Maitlis had free rein to quiz him as fiercely and robustly as possible.
A royal source close to Andrew said last night: “The Duke has been facing this horrible episode for far too long.
“It started back in 2011 and it has now become particularly vicious.
"He’s tried in every way he can to honestly and consistently put his case across, but it just hasn’t been cutting through."
The source added: “He’s had headlines about the Playboy Prince, Airmiles Andy, and the Prince and the Paedo, but nothing could be further. If there are things that he is, it’s not those.”
Andrew became more heavily embroiled in the Epstein scandal following a 2015 US lawsuit where Roberts first claimed she had sex with the Prince.
She has since claimed the Duke should “come clean” about his wrongdoing and face prison, though there is no criminal investigation open into her allegations.
A media representative for Roberts yesterday said she had no comment “at this time”.
But her lawyer Brad Edwards told The Sun Andrew should be speaking to the authorities or her legal team as they have "all the information".
Jack Scarola, another member of Roberts’ legal team, said: “I believe there is an ongoing investigation in New York by the FBI under the supervision of the US Attorney’s office into those involved in facilitating Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse.
Epstein was first jailed in 2008 for procuring an underage girl for prostitution. He got an 18-month sentence, during which he was able to go on “work release” to his office six days a week. He was released on probation after 13 months.
This July he was arrested on sex trafficking allegations. On August 10 he was found hanged at the New York Metropolitan Correctional Centre — three weeks after being found acunconscious with neck injuries.
Checks were not carried out on the night in question, and CCTV appeared to have malfunctioned. Officials are investigating.
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