Claims Prince’s ‘sex slave’ photo ‘fake’
Supporters of the Duke of York have cast doubt over a photograph purporting to show Prince Andrew with one of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein's alleged sex slaves, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who also claims to have had sex with the royal on three occasions.
Ms Giuffre, who now lives in Cairns, Queensland, with her Australian husband claims she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew in London, New York and the Caribbean when she was just 17.
An old photograph appears to show Prince Andrew with his arm around her waist in 2001, however a source close to the royal said the image looks fake.
"Look at his fingers in the photo. The Duke has quite chubby fingers, they don't look right and nor does the height of the Duke and the girl," a source told the Evening Standard.
"I understand his legal team have asked to have proper sight of the original photograph so they can carry out their own investigation as they seriously doubt its veracity. The records show the newspaper paid £140,000 (AU$253,309) for the copy of the photograph," the source said.
The photo also appears to show Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's former partner and alleged "madam", standing in the background.
DUKE DENIES ALL ALLEGATIONS
Ms Giuffre claims she was hired as a 15-year-old to perform sex acts on Epstein and later met Prince Andrew on a trip to London.
"He knows exactly what he's done, and I hope he comes clean about it," she said of the Duke outside a New York courthouse on Tuesday, where she and several other Epstein accusers spoke about their experiences.
Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and released a lengthy statement over the weekend saying he never saw, witnessed or suspected any inappropriate behaviour while in Epstein's company.
"I met Mr Epstein in 1999. During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year. I have stayed in a number of his residences," he said.
"At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction."
"I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010, and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we know now. I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behaviour."
'THIS IS A WITCH-HUNT'
Another "senior source" defended Prince Andrew and told the Evening Standard they believed he was the victim of a witch hunt.
"The Duke is adamant and has been consistent since 2011 that he does not recall ever meeting Miss Roberts, let alone the photo being taken," they said.
"Many close to the Duke, who know him well, believe this is witch-hunt based on absolutely no evidence. I know that HRH (His Royal Highness) feels deeply for the victims of Epstein but he has no way to respond ... other than to continue his denials because he had no knowledge of them."
Buckingham Palace has previously said Prince Andrew "deplores the exploitation of any human being".
Ms Roberts, 36, previously told the Mail on Sunday that she asked to have the picture as a "keepsake".
It's said to be taken in Ms Maxwell's Knightsbridge mews house in London, which reportedly shows the same style windows as seen in the image.