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Duke of York and Jeffrey Epstein ‘met in early 1990s not 1999’

Prince Andrew’s comments about their friendship in a TV interview contradicted an account from his then-private secretary in The Times in 2011.

Prince Andrew speaking to BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis (Mark Harrison/BBC/PA)
Prince Andrew speaking to BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis (Mark Harrison/BBC/PA)

By Laura Elston, PA Court Reporter

The Duke of York contradicted a senior aide’s account of his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein in his TV interview with Emily Maitlis.

Andrew told BBC Newsnight he first met the since-disgraced financier through “his girlfriend back in 1999”.

But in March 2011, the duke’s then-private secretary Alastair Watson, who spent nine years in the role, wrote to The Times newspaper saying Andrew met Epstein in the “early 1990s”.

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The Duke and Duchess of York on board HMS Campbeltown in the early 1990s (Martin Keene/PA)

Major Watson, who was countering claims the duke was friends with Saif Gaddafi, wrote at the end of his letter: “Finally, there has been widespread comment on the duke’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

“The duke has known Mr Epstein since being introduced to him in the early 1990s.

“The insinuations and innuendos that have been made in relation to the duke are without foundation.”

Convicted sex offender Epstein took his own life while imprisoned earlier this year.

PA

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