Thursday, 26 May 2022

Prince Andrew was ‘couch potato’ before Ghislaine Maxwell friendship, Duke’s friend claims

Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty in sex trafficking trial

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The second episode of ‘House of Maxwell’ airs tonight and delves deeper into Ghislaine Maxwell’s relationship with disgraced financier, Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell is currently awaiting sentencing in a New York prison, having been convicted of recruiting and grooming teenage girls for sexual encounters with Epstein. The pair were regular fixtures in elite circles in both London and Manhattan, and had known connections to the Queen’s youngest son, Prince Andrew. 

Maxwell met the Duke of York while she was a student at the University of Oxford in the Eighties. 

Andrew told BBC’s Emily Maitlis during his Newsnight interview that Maxwell was the “key element” in his friendship with Epstein. 

The Duke was spotted multiple times with Maxwell and Epstein throughout the Nineties and early Noughties. 

According to the Evening Standard, Andrew and Maxwell travelled together multiple times in 2000 and were photographed at various London nightspots.

Friends who spoke to the newspaper in 2001 said that his connection to Maxwell had sparked a change in his lifestyle. 

One friend said: “Andrew’s a very poor judge of character, easily impressed.

“He’s gone from this couch potato to man about town, with nothing better to do than go from one holiday to the next.”

The trio are said to have holidayed in Florida, the Caribbean and Thailand. 

In the Newsnight interview, Andrew said that he ended his friendship with Epstein on a 2010 trip to New York, though continued to be friendly with Maxwell in the years that followed, adding the pair had last talked before Epstein’s July 2019 arrest.

Soon after the interview aired, the Duke stepped down from his royal duties. 

Almost exactly a year after Epstein’s arrest, Maxwell was arrested on multiple criminal charges related to the trafficking and sexual abuse of young women and girls. 

In December, she was found guilty on five of the six charges against her in a Manhattan court, including sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and three related counts of conspiracy. 

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She was acquitted on one count of enticing a minor to travel across state lines to engage in an illegal sexual act.

Maxwell faces up to 65 years in jail. 

Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleged that she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell, she later filed a lawsuit against Andrew for sexual assault

Ms Giuffre claims that Andrew had sex with her when she was 17 and an alleged sex trafficking victim.

The Duke of York vehemently denied the claims.

Andrew was stripped of his honorary military roles, with the Duke also giving up using his HRH – a style he was born with.

Last month, Andrew paid a financial settlement to his Ms Giuffre, reported to be as much as £12 million – the settlement was not an admission of guilt.

The Duke remained out of the limelight until the end of last month, when he attended his father Prince Philip’s memorial service. 

He escorted the Queen into Westminster Abbey, having travelled from Windsor together. 

Some believe that this is the beginning of Andrew’s return to public life. 

Former BBC News royal correspondent Peter Hunt said: “This was rehabilitation on speed.

“If he can escort his mother at such a high-profile event, why can’t he unveil a plaque?”

“The Queen has done what she always does and protected him.”

The second episode of ‘House of Maxwell’ airs tonight on BBC Two at 9pm.

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