Prince Andrew in an infamous photograph with Virginia Roberts Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell. He denies ever meeting Roberts Giuffre Credit: BBC PANORAMA Tears streaked Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s face but her voice was steely. “He knows what happened. I know what happened,” said the woman who alleges she was trafficked to London to have sex with Prince…
Tears streaked Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s face but her voice was steely. “He knows what happened. I know what happened,” said the woman who alleges she was trafficked to London to have sex with Prince Andrew. “There’s only one of us telling the truth, and I know that’s me.”
The Duke of York’s Newsnight interview with Emily Maitlis in which he discussed his friendship with convicted sex offender and child trafficker Jeffrey Epstein was widely judged a PR catastrophe. Now came the grisly next chapter. Panorama: The Prince and the Epstein Scandal (BBC One) gave a voice to Epstein’s victims and scrutinised in almost granular detail his relationship with Andrew (including footage of the pair beaming from beneath matching top hats at Royal Ascot).
Many of the details had an almost diabolical sordidness. We saw the artsy prints of naked young girls adorning the walls of one of Epstein’s mansions. And of the Spitting Image puppet of Andrew used, it was asserted, to humiliate a woman at the New York townhouse of Epstein, who killed himself in police custody last July.
The story was framed by reporter Darragh MacIntyre as a noir-ish journey into a heart of darkness. Rumpled of demeanour, unflinching of gaze, he wandered through Manhattan, reflecting on the young women who had fetched up here only to be drawn into Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.
Buckingham Palace was presented in the same slightly sinister fashion – shot at night, with a single upstairs light twinkling ominously. Such were the journalistic devices MacIntyre employed to communicate the powerlessness felt by Epstein’s victims, the sense they were mere playthings of the rich and powerful.
The rawest moments came in Ms Roberts Giuffre’s interview, in which she insisted the infamous 2001 photograph of Prince Andrew with his hand around her waist was authentic. Another Epstein victim, Sarah Ransome, recounted being lured to his private island where Epstein raped her.
The Duke of York has consistently and emphatically denied any sexual contact or relationship with Ms Roberts Giuffre, whose allegations against him made in court filings in 2015 were struck from the record and described as “immaterial and impertinent”.
In releasing the latest claims, the Federal Appeals Court in New York noted that materials submitted to a court should not be understood as firm findings or as “some sort of marker of reliability. That would be a mistake.”
There were frequent cutbacks to Andrew’s conversation with Maitlis. A little of that conversation’s unhinged quality appeared to seep into MacIntyre’s report. The Prince’s assertion that he could not have sweated all over Roberts Giuffre at Tramp’s nightclub in 2001 owing to a physical ailment was juxtaposed with Alan Partridge-esque photographs from the time of Andrew running, sweating and looking silly. And an interview with lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a friend of Epstein’s who denies having had sex with any of the woman trafficked by the financier, featured a close-up of a curvaceous office statue. The documentary seemed to be raising its eyebrows in our direction.
Such embellishments jarred slightly. Even the most subtle window dressing was superfluous in the context of Ms Roberts Giuffre’s emotive testimony. Otherwise, this was gumshoe journalism of the first order and a chilling adjunct to Andrew’s Newsnight disaster.