PANORAMA’S bombshell broadcast tonight has been described by one royal writer as “about as bad as it gets for Andrew” – as Twitter users praised the duke’s accuser for her “bravery”.
Prince Andrew suffered fresh scrutiny when Virginia Roberts, who claimed she was a trafficking victim made to have sex with him when she was 17, asked the British public to support her.
Ms Roberts, a mum-of-three, told Panorama she felt “horrified and ashamed” after allegedly having sex with the duke.
She said: “This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked, this is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys’ royalty.”
Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Roberts.
The documentary revealed:
- Five more women say Prince Andrew witnessed Epstein abuse them.
- Virginia Roberts called sex with the Duke of York ‘quick and disgusting’.
- Leaked e-mails appear to show Andrew asking for help after sex claims.
- A date on the back of their infamous photograph ‘proves it’s not a fake’.
- Unseen pictures show the Prince at Ascot with Epstein and Maxwell.
- An Epstein sex accuser says ‘wild sex was normal as cup of tea’.
Royal commentator Penny Junor said Ms Roberts came across as a more sympathetic character compared with his own car crash Newsnight interview.
She said: “This is about as bad as it gets for Andrew.
“Virginia Roberts sounds very plausible in this interview, while most of Andrew’s excuses in his interview with Emily Maitlis were laughable.
“She also comes across as a much more sympathetic character so viewers will warm to her.
“This made gruelling watching and the stories these girls tell are terrifying.
“Jeffrey Epstein was a monster and if what the girls say about (socialite) Ghislaine Maxwell is true, then she was no better.
“Whether Andrew actually slept with Virginia Roberts I think is still unproven.”
On Twitter people praised Ms Roberts for her “bravery” in speaking out.
Writer Kate Maltby tweeted: “Watching Virginia Roberts Guiffre on #Panorama. Clear, calm, confident. I can’t imagine the bravery it takes to go up against the British Royal Family.”
Another commentator wrote: “Well done Panorama!! You have given Virginia Roberts a most valuable opportunity to bravely recall her story.
“She came across brave, authentic and convincing unlike Prince Andrew.”
Another tweeted: “Virginia Roberts is incredibly brave to give this interview, but I’m really glad she has.”
Historian Kate Williams tweeted: “Virginia Roberts is a brave woman to speak out and keep doing so, despite all those who wish she wouldn’t.
“I hope that there are efforts made to expose more of those in #Epstein’s circle – lot of powerful men involved in this.”
In graphic and detailed testimony, Ms Roberts told Panorama sex with the duke was “disgusting”.
She said: “It didn’t last very long, the whole entire procedure. It was disgusting. He wasn’t mean or anything but he got up and he said ‘thanks’ and walked out.
“I sat there in bed, just horrified and ashamed and felt dirty. I had to get up and have a shower.”
She added: “The next day, Ghislaine (Maxwell) tells me I did a really good job. She pats me on the back and said ‘You made him really happy’.”
In tears, Ms Roberts said: “It was a wicked time in my life. It was a really scary time in my life. I had just been abused by a member of the royal family. These powerful people were my chains.”
The mum-of-three added: “I implore the people in the UK to stand up beside me, to help me fight this fight, to not accept this as being OK.”
The show also examined the infamous photograph of Andrew pictured with his arm wrapped around her waist at Maxwell’s house.
The duke has said he had no memory of the photo being taken and questioned whether it was his own hand in the image.
Ms Roberts insisted the photo was genuine and she gave the original to the FBI in 2011.
She said: “The people on the inside are going to keep coming up with these ridiculous excuses.
“Like his arm was elongated or the photo was doctored, or he came to New York to break up with Jeffrey Epstein. I mean, come on, I’m calling BS on this, because that’s what it is.
“He knows what happened. I know what happened and there’s only one of us telling the truth, and I know that’s me.”
Meanwhile the Panorama investigation disclosed that five women who allege they were victims of paedophile Epstein are calling on Andrew to give a testimony in their civil court case.
Panorama claimed it had also uncovered an email allegedly sent by Andrew in 2015 to Maxwell.
In it, the duke is reported to have asked for Ms Maxwell’s help in dealing with claims by Ms Roberts.
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said in response to the allegations on Panorama: “It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
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On the duke’s association with Epstein, the palace spokesman added: “The Duke of York unequivocally regrets his ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein’s suicide left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims.
“The Duke deeply sympathises with those affected who want some form of closure. It is his hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives.
“The Duke is willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.
“The Duke has already stated that he did not see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to Jeffrey Epstein’s arrest and conviction.
“He deplores the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour.”
Ms Roberts’ interview took place before the Duke’s car crash appearance on Newsnight.
Virginia Roberts was recruited by Epstein as a 17-year-old[/caption]
Pictures showed Virginia Roberts with Epstein at parties as a 17-year-old[/caption]
Andrew denied the claims during a BBC Newsnight interview last month[/caption]
An infamous picture appears to show Andrew with Ms Roberts as Ghislaine Maxwell stands in the background[/caption]
Prince Andrew had faced criticism over his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein[/caption]