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Thursday Nov 21 2019
By
Web Desk
,
AFP

Prince Andrew to 'step back from public duties' after Epstein furore

By
Web Desk
,
AFP
In a statement, Prince Andrew said he recognised that his links to Epstein had become a 'major disruption' to the royal family and the charities and organisations associated with it. Photo: Chris Jackson

Prince Andrew on Wednesday said he was cancelling his public engagements, as the outcry over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein showed no sign of abating.

Queen Elizabeth II's second son has been under pressure since a television interview broadcast Saturday in which he defended his links to the disgraced financier, who was found dead in a New York prison in August.

An increasing number of organisations and initiatives backed by Prince Andrew have said they were not renewing or would review their support because of the revelations.

In an emailed statement, the Duke of York said he now recognised that his links to Epstein had become a "major disruption" to the royal family and the charities and organisations associated with it.

"Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty (the Queen) if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission," he added.

"I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.

"His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

"I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."

Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, denies an allegation that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured for him by his friend Epstein, who killed himself in a US prison in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

The scandal escalated since Andrew did an interview with BBC TV, aired on Saturday. The interview has drawn widespread criticism in the media, where many have said his explanations were unsatisfactory, while lawyers for Epstein’s victims said the prince showed little sympathy for those abused.

In his BBC interview, Andrew categorically denied the sex claims and gave a series of explanations as to why her account was not true.

He said her account of meeting him sweating and dancing almost two decades ago at a London nightclub before having sex with him could not be true, noting that he suffered from a medical condition that stopped him perspiring.

He also said that on the night he was alleged to have met her he was at home with his family after visiting a Pizza Express restaurant in the commuter town of Woking with his daughter Beatrice.

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