Prince Andrew, in 'no holds barred' interview with BBC, says he doesn't remember meeting accuser

Maria Puente, USA TODAY
Prince Andrew, in 'no holds barred' interview with BBC, says he doesn't remember meeting accuser

Britain's Prince Andrew, trying to contain damage from his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and accusations of sexual misconduct, sat down with the BBC in Buckingham Palace for a taped interview airing Saturday in which he emphatically denies once again that he slept with one of Epstein's alleged "sex slaves" when she was 17.  

"I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," Andrew told BBC reporter Emily Maitlis, in a transcript provided before the broadcast scheduled for 10 p.m. local time in Britain.

Maitlis asked, "You don’t remember meeting her?"

"No," replied Andrew.

Nevertheless, he acknowledged he had embarrassed the royal family. "I let the side down, simple as that," he said.

The interview, "Prince Andrew & The Epstein Scandal: The Newsnight Interview," will be simulcast in the U.S. on BBC World News, the international 24-hour news channel, at 4 p.m. E.T. Saturday, and at 6 a.m. ET Sunday.

The interview, recorded Thursday, lands on BBC2 as Andrew, 59, the Duke of York and Queen Elizabeth II's second son, has been mired in a toxic sex scandal dating to at least 2011, when his long friendship with the convicted sex offender Epstein lost him his role as a British trade envoy. 

Andrew admitted to Maitlis that it was a mistake to stay friends with Epstein even after he had been convicted of sex crimes in Florida in 2008.

"The problem was the fact that once he had been convicted…" Andrew started, and Maitlis finished, "You stayed with him."

"I stayed with him and that’s…that’s…that’s the bit that…that…that, as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that."

Prince Andrew, Duke of York, on Sept. 7, 2019 in Bruges, Belgium.

Shocking headlines – and pictures – popped up in January 2015 when an American woman living in Australia, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 35, alleged in court documents that she was groomed by Epstein and his associates to sexually service Epstein's powerful friends when she was a young Florida teen.

She asserted she was compelled to have sex with Andrew three times, in New York, the U.S. Virgin Islands and in London, starting when she was 17. At the time, Buckingham Palace issued multiple emphatic statements denying Andrew had any relationship or sexual contact with Giuffre.

Andrew himself also issued a statement of denial before a speech he made at Davos that year. Later in 2015, a federal judge in Florida called Giuffre's claims "immaterial" and irrelevant to the case at issue and threw them out.

Four years later, Epstein was arrested this summer and charged with new sex crimes, and again Giuffre's allegations against him surged back into headlines, and again the palace issued statements rejecting her claims

In August, Epstein was found dead, a suicide, in his federal jail cell in Manhattan while awaiting trial on the new charges. Furious that he had escaped a trial, some of his many accusers, including Giuffre, began going public to tell their stories. 

Virginia Roberts Giuffre at press conference outside a Manhattan court in New York, Aug. 27, 2019.

So far, nothing Giuffre has said about Andrew has been proven in any court, civil or criminal, and so far she has not sued Andrew, although she has sued others.

USA TODAY reached out to a representative for Giuffre's lawyer, Charles Cooper, for comment in response to the BBC interview.

Since Epstein's death, Giuffre has done multiple media interviews, including a sit-down with Australia's "60 Minutes," which aired last Sunday. She reiterated her allegations against Andrew and said she is sick of his "lame excuses" for denying them.

She has told reporters she thinks he should "come clean" and "should go to jail." Lawyers for her and other Epstein accusers have demanded Andrew submit to questioning by the FBI investigating Epstein's associates and their role in his alleged sex-trafficking network.

British tabloids, who have called Andrew "Randy Andy" for years, have been especially eager to splash details of Giuffre's accusations about Andrew, who is the father of two daughters (Princess Beatrice, 31, is getting married next year and Princess Eugenie, 29, was married in October 2018) with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. 

"Fergie," as she is known in the tabloids, also has an Epstein connection, having accepted a loan from him during one of her past financial crises. She apologized later, and continues to support Andrew, with whom she shares a close relationship and a royal residence despite being divorced since 1996.

Andrew is the younger brother to Prince Charles the Prince of Wales and uncle to Princes William and Prince Harry and great-uncle to their children.  

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Prince Andrew tells the BBC he doesn't remember meeting accuser