#sextrafficking | Prince Andrew: Letter casts doubt on when duke met Epstein | #tinder | #pof | #match

A letter written to the Times newspaper by Buckingham Palace has cast doubt on when the Duke of York first met convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The 2011 letter says they met in the early 1990s, not in 1999 as Prince Andrew said in his BBC interview.

It comes as the duke faces a growing backlash after he said he did not regret his friendship with Epstein.

Buckingham Palace said the prince’s words speak for themselves and he stands by his recollection of events.

Writing to the Times in March 2011, the duke’s then private secretary Alastair Watson aimed to address “widespread comment” about the relationship with the New York financier, who died in prison this year awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

He said Prince Andrew had known Epstein “since being introduced to him in the early 1990s”, but dismissed the “insinuations and innuendos” as “without foundation”.

But in his interview with the BBC’s Newsnight on Saturday, the duke said they “met through his girlfriend back in 1999” – a reference to Ghislaine Maxwell, who had been a friend of Prince Andrew since she was at university.

BT has become the latest in a series of organisations to distance themselves from Prince Andrew since the interview was broadcast.

In a statement, BT said it had been working with iDEA – which helps people develop digital, business and employment skills – since 2017 but “our dealings have been with its executive directors not its patron, the Duke of York”.

“In light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage,” a spokeswoman said.

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Media captionPrince Andrew on Epstein: ‘There was no indication, absolutely no indication’

Standard Chartered Bank and KPMG earlier announced they were withdrawing support for the duke’s business mentoring initiative Pitch@Palace, but sources told the BBC the decisions were made before the interview.

Four Australian universities have also said they would not be continuing their involvement in Pitch@Palace Australia.

Prince Andrew cancelled a planned visit to flood-hit areas of Yorkshire on Tuesday, three days after the interview aired, the Sun newspaper reported.

It is understood the visit was deemed inappropriate in the midst of an election campaign.

In his Newsnight interview, the duke answered questions for the first time about his friendship with US financier Jeffrey Epstein, who took his own life in August while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in the US.

He “categorically” denied having any sexual contact with Virginia Giuffre – who was 17 and known as Virginia Roberts when she says the prince first had sex with her – but the interview provoked a backlash.

  • Pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca and Hult International Business School, are reviewing their partnerships with Pitch@Palace
  • Outward Bound, the charity the Duke of Edinburgh was patron of for 65 years, has called a board meeting to discuss the prince’s patronage
  • London Metropolitan University, said it will consider the prince’s role as its patron, saying it “opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse and human trafficking”
  • University of Huddersfield students are calling for the prince to be sacked as their chancellor
  • Four Australian universities listed as partners of Pitch@Palace Australia – Bond University, Murdoch University, the University of Wollongong and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology – said they had either ended their relationship with the initiative or would not be continuing it

Despite the criticism, BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond reported that those close to the duke say a withdrawal from public life is not under consideration.

Prince Andrew said in the interview that he could not recall ever meeting Virginia Giuffre – despite a photograph of them together – and recalled that he went to Pizza Express in Woking and then returned home the night she claims they first met.

He sought to cast doubt on her testimony that he was “profusely sweating” in a nightclub, saying that a medical condition at the time meant he could not perspire.

And the duke said meeting Epstein for a final time in 2010 was “the wrong decision”, but said the “opportunities I was given to learn” about business meant he did not regret the friendship.

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