Belfast Telegraph

Royal Portrush declines to say if it plans to join groups distancing themselves from embattled Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Co Antrim in September
Prince Andrew at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Co Antrim in September

By Claire Williamson, Margaret Canning and PA

Royal Portrush Golf Club would not be drawn on whether it would review its links with Prince Andrew as calls continued for him to make a statement about Jeffrey Epstein.

It comes after the Duke of York was dealt a major blow when a sponsor of his flagship business project said it would not renew its support.

Andrew is facing the embarrassing prospect of charities and institutions he is associated with distancing themselves from him.

Lawyers for convicted sex offender Epstein's victims have urged him to tell US authorities if he knows anything.

The duke was caught up in further controversy when a newspaper columnist claimed Andrew used a racially offensive word during a Buckingham Palace meeting in 2012.

The Queen and other senior royals are said to "100% "back and believe" Andrew's defence of himself in the BBC interview with Emily Maitlis.

The duke is a patron of the Royal Portrush Golf Club and has a tournament there named the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy, which he founded in 2001.

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On Tuesday. the Belfast Telegraph made several attempts to contact the club for comment but did not receive a response by the time of going to print.

Andrew visited the Royal Portrush Golf Club in September and was pictured attending a junior golfing competition, despite objections from some club members.

The royal is also a patron of Catalyst, formerly the Northern Ireland Science Park.

Prince Andrew at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Co Antrim in September
Prince Andrew at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Co Antrim in September

The site in Belfast's Titanic Quarter provides space and support for companies in the tech sector.

Catalyst did not respond yesterday to a request for comment on whether it would continue its links with Andrew.

Last year one of three regional heats of the Duke of York's Pitch@Palace mentoring scheme to support technology start-ups and entrepreneurs took place in Belfast.

It was hosted by Catalyst Inc at the Ormeau Baths in September, supported by Barclays Eagle Labs, Belfast City Council and British Business Bank.

However, a regional heat was not held in Belfast this year.

Meanwhile, KPMG's sponsorship contract with Andrew's Pitch@Palace expired at the end of October and will not be renewed, a source told the PA news agency.

Buckingham Palace said: "KPMG's contract with Pitch@Palace ended at the end of October.

"A full programme of Pitch@Palace events is continuing across the United Kingdom."

Andrew visited Catalyst Inc in 2016 to open a new £6.5m extension at the site.

He said at the time: "Catalyst Inc is a game changer and is one of the best examples of an ecosystem and cluster to support and encourage entrepreneurship in the UK."

It comes as London Metropolitan University is set to review the duke's role as its patron, saying it "opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse and human trafficking".

Andrew's position will be considered as part of the agenda at the university's board of governors' meeting next week.

The student jury at Huddersfield University, where Andrew is chancellor, has also passed a motion to lobby him to resign.

AstraZeneca's three-year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is being reviewed.

Andrew is facing a barrage of criticism, with the royal accused of showing a lack of empathy with Epstein's victims and a lack of remorse for his friendship with the disgraced financier.

London Metropolitan University said: "We will be reviewing the position of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, as our patron at the next board of governors meeting on Tuesday, November 26.

"The university opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse, human trafficking and any activity that is contrary to the university's values."

Andrew took over the position from his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, in 2013.

The patronage of the university extends back to 1848 when Queen Victoria's consort Prince Albert sponsored an annual exhibition of students' work from the then Metropolitan Evening Classes for Young Men.

Lawyers for Epstein's victims have urged the duke to tell US authorities what he knows.

During the interview Andrew twice said his relationship with Epstein had some "seriously beneficial outcomes", giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.

Andrew denied that he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was under-age.

He claimed an alleged encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter, Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.

The American woman said the same alleged sexual liaison began with the duke sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp.

However, Andrew said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he was unable sweat.

He said he had no recollection of meeting Ms Giuffre.

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