Shamed Prince Andrew steps back from public duties over Epstein scandal
The Duke of York will step back from public duties for the "foreseeable future" amid widespread criticism over his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Pressure has been mounting in recent days over the royal role of the Queen's second son after his high-profile interview about his links with the disgraced financier.
Firms including telecoms giant BT and bank Barclays are among a number of multimillion-pound businesses, universities and charities which have distanced themselves from Andrew in the wake of the BBC interview.
In a statement Andrew said: "It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family's work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support. Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.
"I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.
"His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.
"I can only hope that in time they will be able to rebuild their lives.
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"Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency."
Yesterday Royal Portrush Golf Club told the Belfast Telegraph it has "no comment to make" in relation to whether it is reviewing its links with Prince Andrew.
The duke is a patron of the club and a tournament there is named the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy, which he founded in 2001.
Prince Andrew visited Royal Portrush Golf Club in September and was pictured attending a junior golfing competition, despite objections from some members.
Andrew has been accused of showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein's victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier, who took his own life while in prison earlier this year.
In the Newsnight interview, the duke also denied claims that he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was under age.
The duke cancelled a visit to flood-ravaged communities in South Yorkshire on Tuesday, but Buckingham Palace maintained this was not because of the fallout from his interview.
A palace spokesman said: "The duke was due to attend to offer his support and thanks to the emergency services but, with an election campaign and a politician also visiting, it was not appropriate for the visit to continue."
It also emerged that Andrew's BBC interview contradicted a senior aide's account of his friendship with Epstein.
The duke said he first met the disgraced financier through "his girlfriend back in 1999".
But in March 2011 the duke's then-private secretary Alastair Watson wrote to The Times newspaper saying Andrew met Epstein in the "early 1990s".
Meanwhile, TripAdvisor has suspended reviews for the Pizza Express in Woking that Prince Andrew discussed during his interview.