The Yorks

Prince Andrew’s media advisor quit after warning the Duke not to speak to Newsnight


NEIL HOWARD/FLICKR

The Duke of York’s media advisor quit his role two weeks ago according to reports after warning the prince not to go ahead with his 50 minute Newsnight interview.

According to The Sunday Times, PR officer Jason Stein was hired in September to help repair Prince Andrew’s reputation following the heavy criticism he received over his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.

However, Mr Stein was only in the role for a few weeks, having left ‘by mutual consent’ after advising to Duke not to speak to Newsnight, warning it could backfire.

The spin doctor came at odds with others in the Duke’s office who were ‘pushing hard’ for the 59-year-old royal to speak out on television about his relationship with Epstein.

Mr Stein instead wanted the Duke to improve his reputation by dong newspaper interviews to mark his 60th birthday.

A palace source told the Times that last night’s BBC interview would “go down as one of the single worst PR moves in recent history”.

The Duke has been heavily criticised for refusing to say that he now regrets his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted of a sexual offence involving a child.

The Duke said: “We weren’t that close.

“I would go and stay in his house but that was because of his girlfriend, not because of him.

“The people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.”

Interviewer Emily Maitlis also challenged Andrew on his visits to Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion.

When he was challenged on this, the Duke said: “It was a convenient place to stay. 

“I mean I’ve gone through this in my mind so many times. At the end of the day, with a benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. 

“But at the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do and I admit fully that my judgement was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that’s just the way it is.”

In the preview clips, the Duke admitted that he let The Royal Family down for continuing to visit sex offender Jeffrey Epstein after his 18 month spell in jail.

The 59-year-old Prince said: “The problem was the fact that once he [Epstein] had been convicted, I stayed with him and that’s…that’s…that’s the bit that…that…that, as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.”

Ms Maitlis also questioned the Duke on his relationship with Virginia Roberts.

She said: “One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Roberts has made allegations against you.

“She says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at Tramp Nightclub in London.  She went on to have sex with you in a house in Belgravia belonging to Ghislaine Maxwell, your friend. Your response?”

Prince Andrew replied, saying: “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

Ms Maitlis pressed on, asking whether the Duke has any memories of meeting Virginia Roberts.

The Prince once again claimed he had no recollection of meeting her.