Prince Andrew says he could not have slept with accuser because he was at Pizza Express

The Duke of York , speaking for the first time about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis, broadcast by the BBC on Saturday. Photo: Mark Harrington/BBC/PA Wire
The Duke of York , speaking for the first time about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis, broadcast by the BBC on Saturday. Photo: Mark Harrington/BBC/PA Wire
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The Duke of York claims he could not have had sex with a woman who accused him of sleeping with her when she was 17 because he had taken his daughter to Pizza Express in Woking on the alleged date.

Prince Andrew was asked on BBC Newsnight if he remembered meeting Virginia Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, at Tramp Nightclub in London in 2001.

Mrs Giuffre is one of 16 women who say they were abused by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and has previously claimed in court she was forced to have sex with Andrew.

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis said Mrs Guiffre alleged she went back to a house in Belgravia with the duke after dancing in the club and had sex with him on March 10, 2001.

But Andrew said he had “no recollection” of the event, and that there were “a number of things” wrong with the story.

“On that particular day, that we now understand is the date which is the 10th of March, I was at home,” the duke said.

“I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose, sort of, four or five in the afternoon.

“And then because the duchess [of York] was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away, the other one is there.”

Andrew said he was on leave from the Royal Navy at the time and was therefore at home with the children.

Ms Maitlis asked why he remembered going to Pizza Express “so specifically”.

The duke replied: “Because going to Pizza Express in Woking is an unusual thing for me to do, a very unusual thing for me to do.

“I’ve never been... I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly.

“As soon as somebody reminded me of it, I went: ‘Oh yes, I remember that’.”

Ms Maitlis said Mrs Guiffre had been “very specific” about Andrew that night, claiming he was “profusely sweating” and that she went on to have a bath.

But the duke said there was a “slight problem” with that story - claiming he was unable to perspire at the time.

“I have a peculiar medical condition which is that I don’t sweat or I didn’t sweat at the time,” Andrew claimed.

“...I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War when I was shot at and I simply... it was almost impossible for me to sweat.”

He said it was only because he had “done a number of things in the recent past” that he was able to sweat again.

Andrew made the comments during a BBC Newsnight interview about his links to paedophile Epstein, who was found dead in his New York prison cell earlier this year, where he was being held on sex trafficking charges.

The Duke of York also questioned the validity of a photograph showing him with his arm around Mrs Giuffre, inside what is said to be the house of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell in Belgravia, London.

The duke said he has “no recollection” of meeting her and cast doubt on the picture, claiming he is “not one to hug” or “display affection” in public.

Prince Andrew said while he recognises himself in the picture with Mrs Giuffre, he claimed it is not possible to prove whether the image had been faked.

He also claimed the picture could not have been taken in London as he was in his “travelling clothes”.

He said: “I don’t believe it’s a picture of me in London because when I would out to... When I go out in London, I wear a suit and a tie.

“That’s what I would describe as... those are my travelling clothes if I’m going to go... If I’m going overseas.”

Asked by Ms Maitlis if the picture had been faked, Andrew said: “Nobody can prove whether or not that photograph has been doctored but I don’t recollect that photograph ever being taken.”

He denied remembering having his arm around Mrs Giuffre’s waist, adding: “I’m terribly sorry but if I, as a member of the Royal Family, and I have a photograph taken and I take very, very few photographs, I am not one to, as it were, hug and public displays of affection are not something that I do.

“So that’s the best explanation I can give you and I’m afraid to say that I don’t believe that photograph was taken in the way that has been suggested.”

The duke said he has no regrets about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, but says it was wrong to visit the convicted sex offender for a final time.

Andrew’s much anticipated appearance on BBC’s Newsnight to defend his reputation in the wake of the Epstein sex scandal, saw him admit the relationship with the disgraced financier gave him the opportunity to meet people and help prepare for his role as a trade envoy.

In attempting to draw a line under this controversial period of his life, Andrew may have opened himself up to further criticism as his admission is likely to be condemned by Virginia Giuffre.

The duke said the whole episode had not been damaging to the Queen, only to himself, and that the wider royal family “couldn’t be more supportive”.

When asked by Maitlis if he regretted the “whole friendship with Epstein”, the duke replied: “Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.”

Earlier in the interview, Andrew had said he was transitioning out of the Royal Navy and wanted to the know more about the world of business as he would become the UK’s special representative for international trade and investment.

Mrs Giuffre’s allegations were struck from US civil court records in 2015 after a judge said they were “immaterial and impertinent”.

Maitlis quizzed the duke about the claims: “Are you saying you don’t believe her, she’s lying?”

The duke replied: “That’s a very difficult thing to answer because I’m not in a position to know what she’s trying to achieve, but I can tell you categorically I don’t remember meeting her at all.

“I do not remember a photograph being taken and I’ve said consistently and frequently that we never had any sort of sexual contact whatever.”