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The Yorks

Prime Minister Boris Johnson refuses to say whether he has confidence in Prince Andrew

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to comment on whether he has confidence in the Duke of York to fulfil his duties as a working member of the British Royal Family.

Speaking at the G7 summit in the French town of Biarritz, the Prime Minister avoided a question posed to him by the BBC’s Chief Political Correspondent Vicki Young.

Asked if he has confidence in Prince Andrew, Mr Johnson said: “I don’t want to get into commentary about royal matters – it’s not really my job.”

Mr Johnson’s recusal to comment on the matter comes a day after the Duke of York released a lengthy 250-word statement defending his former friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

In the statement, Prince Andrew further apologised for continuing to see Epstein after he was released from prison for prostituting minors.

The Duke said: “At no stage during the limited time I spent with him [Epstein] did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.”

Prince Andrew continued: “I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010 and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know. I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behaviour.

“His suicide has left many unanswered questions and I acknowledge and sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.

“This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr Epstein’s lifestyle. I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour.”

jeffrey Epstein was facing federal sex trafficking charges in New York, however, news emerged of his death on Saturday morning.

The disgraced financier killed himself in his Manhattan cell just a few hours after the new court documents were opened.

Last week Prince Andrew also spoke out after pictures were published in the Mail on Sunday showing the 59-year-old visiting Epstein’s Manhattan mansion back in 2010.

In a statement published in the Daily Telegraph, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes.

“His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”

The pictures published in the Mail on Sunday were taken in 2010, this was after the billionaire had served an 18-month prison sentence for soliciting a minor for prostitution.