Friday 23 August 2019

Prince backed by queen as pressure mounts over his links to paedophile

Support: Prince Andrew accompanied Queen Elizabeth to church yesterday. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire
Support: Prince Andrew accompanied Queen Elizabeth to church yesterday. Photo: Jane Barlow/PA Wire

Nick Allen

Queen Elizabeth showed support for her son, Prince Andrew, yesterday as he was plunged into a further round of damaging allegations following the apparent suicide of his former friend, the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

She chose to sit beside the prince in a car, accompanied by his daughter Princess Beatrice, on the way to church at Balmoral, Scotland. All three could be seen smiling inside the vehicle.

The intervention came as prosecutors in New York said they were continuing to investigate a "conspiracy" of sex-trafficking minors, and their attention turned to living associates of Epstein. The prince was braced for the release of further court documents in coming weeks.

Adam Citron, a former New York prosecutor, said the prosecutors would "absolutely" want to speak to the prince and Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's British former girlfriend, as witnesses as they build up a picture of Epstein's world.

He said: "The case against Epstein is kaput. He's dead. But they're looking at a conspiracy, so you can still look at person X, Y or Z. With all that's going on, it would be political suicide for them not to speak to everyone." He added: "I'd assume Prince Andrew would want to co-operate if they ask.

"And I'm sure he'll have good lawyers, and they'll talk to the prosecutors' back-channel."

Virginia Giuffre (36), who has claimed to have been Epstein's teenage "sex slave", alleged in court documents that she had sex with the British prince when she was 17.

The allegations about the prince were struck from the court record in 2015, after being described as "immaterial and impertinent" by a judge. The prince has always denied the allegations and any involvement.

Meanwhile, Epstein's apparent suicide on Saturday morning in a federal jail launched new conspiracy theories.

Online theorists quickly offered unsubstantiated speculation - including some retweeted by US president Donald Trump - that Epstein's death was not a suicide, or it was faked.

That chatter picked up on the conjecture that resurged after Epstein's July 6 arrest on allegations that he orchestrated a sex-trafficking ring designed to bring him teenage girls.

Some of his accusers have described being sexually abused by the wealthy financier's friends and acquaintances.

The combination created fertile ground for theories and misinformation to breed on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Epstein (66) had been denied bail and faced up to 45 years behind bars on federal sex-trafficking and conspiracy charges unsealed last month. He had pleaded not guilty and was awaiting trial next year.

His relationships with Mr Trump, former US president Bill Clinton and the prince were at the centre of those online rumours and theories, many of which questioned what politicians knew about Epstein's alleged sex crimes.

Meanwhile, a manipulated photo, shared by thousands on Twitter and Facebook, falsely claimed to show Epstein with Mr Trump and a young Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter.

Both Mr Clinton and Mr Trump have denied being privy to Epstein's alleged scheme.

Mr Clinton's spokesman Angel Urena said the former president "knows nothing about the terrible crimes Jeffrey Epstein pleaded guilty to in Florida some years ago, or those with which he has been recently charged in New York."

Mr Trump has acknowledged knowing Epstein but said he "had a falling out with him a long time ago".

Other theories have been darker, especially after Epstein was found injured on the floor of his cell last month with bruises on his neck. Some commentators described it as a "murder attempt". (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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