Britain’s Prince Andrew sparks backlash after ‘disastrous’ TV interview

(file photo: Reuters)
Updated 17 November 2019

Britain’s Prince Andrew sparks backlash after ‘disastrous’ TV interview

  • The prince was lambasted from all quarters for his lack of judgment and empathy with the victims
  • The unprecedented interview was the first time Andrew has answered questions about Virginia Robert’s allegations

LONDON: Britain’s Prince Andrew provoked a backlash Sunday following an extraordinary TV interview in which he denied having sex with an alleged victim of the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, as public relations experts branded the hour-long exchange “disastrous.”
Queen Elizabeth II’s second son was lambasted from all quarters for his lack of judgment and empathy with the victims, his extraordinary defense that he was at a high street pizza restaurant, never sweated and claim that he only stayed at the sex offender’s home because he was ‘too honorable’.
The unprecedented interview was the first time Andrew has answered questions about Virginia Robert’s allegations.
It was a PR gamble intended to clear his name but in attempting to justify his relationship with Epstein, Andrew appeared Sunday to have opened himself up to even greater criticism.
Roberts, now Giuffre, claims she was forced to have sex with the royal on three occasions — in London in 2001 when she was 17, in New York and on Epstein’s private Caribbean island.
PR consultant Mark Borkowski said the exchanges were “like watching a man in quick sand” and that he had “never seen anything so disastrous.”
Meanwhile media lawyer Mark Stephens, who represented James Hewitt after his alleged affair with Princess Diana, called the interview “a catastrophic error.”
“(He) seemed unconcerned by the seriousness of the matter, laughing and smiling at several points during the interview... and expressed no regrets or concern about Epstein’s victims,” added The Guardian.
“Not one single word of remorse,” screamed the front page of the Mail on Sunday following the interview on the BBC’s Newsnight program on Saturday evening.
Andrew, 59, who is eighth in line to the throne, has been dogged for years by critism of his links to Epstein, who was found dead in a New York jail in August.
Giuffre, who alleges that Epstein abused her for years and farmed her out to his wealthy friends, first made her allegations against Prince Andrew, who has repeatedly denied them, in a 2015 US civil court deposition and has repeated them in more recent TV interviews.
“I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened,” Andrew said referring to her claim that they had sex, adding he had “no recollection” of having met her.
The prince told interviewer Emily Maitlis he was in fact “at home with the children” on the March 2001 night in question, after earlier taking his daughter Princess Beatrice to a pizza restaurant.
He denied they had shared a sweaty dance at a London nightclub on the basis he cannot sweat due to a condition related to having fought in the 1982 Falklands War.
And he said a picture showing him with his arm around Giuffre, with Epstein’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell in the background, was “a photograph of a photograph of a photograph,” hinting that it could have been doctored.
Epstein, a US multi-millionaire, pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring a girl under the age of 18 for prostitution and served 13 months in a US prison before being released on probation.
A coroner ruled that he committed suicide by hanging while awaiting trial on federal charges he trafficked girls as young as 14 for sex.
Nonetheless Andrew, who had hosted Epstein at Windsor Castle, and remained in contact after he was convicted, expressed little regret for the friendship, telling Maitlis it had “seriously beneficial outcomes” unrelated to the controversies.
Jack Scarola, a lawyer for Giuffre, told The Times on Saturday Andrew should “submit to an interview under oath with the investigating authorities” in the US who continue to probe the Epstein scandal.
Andrew said he would “in the right circumstances” but added he was “bound by what my legal advice is.”
The prince also faced uncomfortable questions over staying with Epstein at his Manhattan townhouse shortly after his release from prison, when he was captured on video waving goodbye to a woman at the front door.
A witness has described seeing Andrew getting a foot massage from a young Russian woman there.
He repeatedly insisted he was “not close” to the disgraced financier and that his home was simply “a convenient place to stay.”
Andrew also claimed he spent several days there to end their friendship face-to-face — in an “honorable” way — but ultimately conceded it was “the wrong thing to do.”
“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,” he said.


India shuts down Internet in hotspot after deadly protests

Updated 13 December 2019

India shuts down Internet in hotspot after deadly protests

  • Protests erupted this week after the government introduced new legislation that many in the far-flung northeast believe will give citizenship to immigrants
  • On Friday morning thousands gathered in central Guwahati as riot police looked on

GUWAHATI: Internet access was cut in India’s northeastern city of Guwahati on Friday as thousands gathered for fresh protests against a new citizenship law, a day after police shot dead two demonstrators.
Protests erupted this week after the government introduced new legislation that many in the far-flung northeast believe will give citizenship to immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh, and which other critics say is anti-Muslim.
On Friday morning thousands gathered in central Guwahati as riot police looked on, with residents hurrying out to buy essentials.
No fresh violence was reported but Guwahati and other areas remained littered from the detritus of recent days, with some roads blocked by fallen trees, concrete poles, stones and iron railings. Many cash machines have run out of cash and most petrol stations were also shut.
A local government official said that Internet access in the Guwahati, the main city of Assam state, had been cut and an AFP reporter confirmed that connections appeared to have been suspended.
The Meghalaya state government has also cut off mobile Internet, with parts of the capital Shillong brought under curfew since Thursday evening.
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was planning to scrap a visit to the city due to begin on Sunday as the security situation deteriorated, media reported Friday. The Japanese leader had been slated to hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
On Thursday, police had fired live and blank rounds as thousands of demonstrators in Guwahati and elsewhere took to the streets, some vandalising property and torching vehicles.
The two demonstrators killed in the city were among around 20 people being treated in hospital, “a few” of whom had gunshot wounds, said Ramen Talukdar, a doctor at a Guwahati hospital.
Hundreds of passengers stuck at Guwahati airport were brought to the city on government buses with police escort in the early hours of Friday morning.
Several thousand troops have been drafted in to help police, who fired tear gas and charged demonstrators with batons, in recent days.
Security was increased at the Bangladeshi consulate in Guwahati after a vehicle in the consul’s convoy was attacked Wednesday by mobs, the foreign ministry in Dhaka said.
“They cant settle anyone in our motherland. This is unacceptable. We will die but not allow outsiders to settle here,” Manav Das, a protester told AFP on Friday.
“We will defeat the government with the force of the people and the government will be forced to revoke the law,” said local activist Samujal Battacharya.
The Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB), signed into law by the Indian president late Thursday, allows for the fast-tracking of applications from religious minorities from three neighboring countries, but not Muslims.
For Islamic groups, the opposition and rights groups, it is part of Modi’s Hindu nationalist agenda to marginalize India’s 200 million Muslims. He denies this.
The US State Department on Thursday urged India to “protect the rights of its religious minorities,” according to Bloomberg.
But many in India’s northeast object for different reasons, fearing that immigrants from Bangladesh — many of them Hindus — will become citizens, taking jobs and weakening the local culture.
The chief ministers of the states of Punjab in the north and Kerala in the south also said that they would not implement the law, the Hindu daily reported.
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