Wednesday 24 May 2017

'Out-of-control' Fergie was on the brink of bankruptcy

Tony Jones in Washington

SARAH Ferguson described herself as being on the brink of bankruptcy as she explained her actions in the cash-for-access scandal.

She revealed her situation was "out of control" during an interview with US chat-show queen Oprah Winfrey that was aired on Tuesday.

The former royal talked at length about what led her to offer to sell an introduction to her ex-husband the Duke of York for £500,000 (€598,000).

In the interview she painted a picture of herself as a woman living beyond her means, trying to be the "Duchess of York" while her financial position went into a downward spiral.

During the soul searching, the former royal also appeared to liken her situation to one experienced by an addict and said her issues around debt needed to be dealt with.

"Like anybody that goes through, whether it be addiction to food, addiction to goodness knows what, I think that I don't call it an addiction because I think it's just out-of-control behaviour," she said.

"I don't know. But I do know that I think running up huge debts and being out of control, never knowing how to deal with it, all of these issues are now to be really looked at."

Sting

Ferguson claimed she initially agreed to see the businessman who wanted to meet Prince Andrew because she was trying to get £26,000 (€32,000) for a friend, but was not sure why she asked for the rest of the money.

The meeting was a sting operation organised by the 'News of the World'.

Ferguson would not say how much money she owed, only that she was "substantially" in debt, and was considering filing for bankruptcy.

But she said she had the support of her daughters, Beatrice and Eugenie, who told her: "It's a really good, fresh, clean start for you. We're 100pc here for you and we love you."

Ferguson refused to go into detail about the prince's response, saying: "He reached out with understanding."

She also admitted she had been drinking and was "in the gutter" when she was filmed by the Sunday newspaper.

She also said the £500,000 she asked for had been plucked "out of the sky" and she had no immediate plans for the cash.

The video involving the undercover reporter was played to Ferguson and as she watched it she referred to herself in the third person, saying: "I feel really sorry for her."

The footage showed Ferguson saying: "£500,000 when you can, to me, open doors."

Cash

Asked if she was referring to her ex-husband, she said "Yeah", then shook hands with the reporter before apparently accepting a $40,000 (€32,000) cash down-payment.

When the video ended she said she felt "terrible. But it's just, well, there aren't really very many words to describe an act of such gross stupidity".

She told Winfrey the fake businessman had been introduced to her by a friend and had been "highly recommended".

The 50-year-old said: "He had come from a friend of mine, the interviewer, and he'd come very highly recommended from four different people. A friend of mine needed $38,000 (£26,000) urgently, and he had said, 'I'll give that $38,000' for my friend."

Ferguson also said she met him because a friend said the businessman "wanted to invest in your children's books or films or any animations".

The chat-show host questioned why Ferguson could not use her family connections to get the money her friend needed but she said she was "divorced from the royal family", and had not built a strong financial position for herself.

Her money problems escalated, to the point where she was forced to live with Prince Andrew because she could not afford her own house.

She said: "We are divorced and I don't want to keep being this burden on him." She would not confirm how much she had received from her ex-husband in their divorce settlement -- rumoured to be £15,000 (€18,000) a year -- but said she opted for congeniality over cash. "I chose friendship with the family and I wanted friendship with the boss (queen), she's the most wonderful grandmother." But Ferguson admitted: "I've been living, trying to be the Duchess of York . . . beyond my means? Yes."

Irish Independent

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