Prince Andrew, 60, withdrew from public life “for the foreseeable future” last November following fallout from a BBC Newsnight interview he gave about his links to dead sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein was awaiting trial for child sex trafficking charges when he reportedly took his own life in a New York jail cell last August. Prince Andrew’s friendship with Epstein had come under scrutiny and he decided to address it by giving a TV interview to the BBC.
While the Duke had hoped the Newsnight interview would help “clear the air” for the Royal Family it backfired and prompted organisations and charities to sever ties with him in their droves.
At the time royal commentator and former Buckingham Palace press officer Dickie Arbiter labelled the TV appearance “excruciating.”
One of the biggest criticisms faced by Andrew following the interview was his apparent lack of empathy for Epstein’s victims.
In a statement announcing his withdrawal from public duties, the Duke was keen to correct this.
READ MORE: Prince Andrew ‘sought to falsely portray himself’ – lawyer hits back
The statement read: “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.”
However, a source close to Andrew has claimed the interview is still a “source of regret.”
Prince Andrew’s legal team issued a statement refuting claims the Duke had refused to co-operate with the FBI’s investigation into Epstein after it was revealed that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) made a request to the Home Office for help to question Andrew.
The statement from Andrew’s lawyers said the Duke had offered to co-operate with the DOJ’s investigation on three occasions this year and claimed the DOJ had breached its own confidentiality rules.
His legal team said: “The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ.
“Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the duke has offered zero co-operation.
“In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.”
However, Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who in charge of the Epstein probe hit back at these claims.
In a scathing statement, he claimed Prince Andrew had “sought to falsely portray himself.”
Berman said: ”Today, Prince Andrew yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to co-operate with an ongoing federal criminal investigation into sex trafficking and related offences committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, even though the prince has not given an interview to federal authorities, has repeatedly declined our request to schedule such an interview and nearly four months ago informed us unequivocally – through the very same counsel who issued today’s release – that he would not come in for such an interview.
“If Prince Andrew is, in fact, serious about co-operating with the ongoing federal investigation, our doors remain open and we await word of when we should expect him.”