Prince Andrew’s accuser is speaking out one day after the royal announced his decision to “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future” following his shocking BBC Newsnight interview, in which he discussed his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and denied knowing Virginia Giuffre (formerly Virginia Roberts), who has accused Andrew of forcing her to have sex with him three times between 1999 and 2002.
“Prince Andrew’s recent interview and his subsequent action to withdraw from public life is welcomed news. It is a positive first step towards taking responsibility for his actions,” Giuffre’s attorney Sigrid McCawley tells PEOPLE in a statement.
“However, basing his decision to step away from his duties due to his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein is only a half truth. He clearly had a long-term association with Ghislaine Maxwell who we maintain was Epstein’s co-conspirator and played a central role in devastating the lives of countless women.”
In Saturday’s interview, Prince Andrew recalled meeting Epstein in 1991 through the financier’s then-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, who has never been charged and has denied the allegations, and attempted to explain how he could never have been with Giuffre.
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” the Duke of York, 59, told BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis about Giuffre’s allegations. “It just never happened.”
Buckingham Palace has issued strong denials that Giuffre was forced to have sex with Andrew, at age 17. “It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts,” a previous statement said. “Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
Speaking specifically about Giuffre’s allegation that he danced with Giuffre at London’s exclusive Tramp nightclub, before allegedly having sex in a mansion in the upmarket Belgravia neighborhood, Queen Elizabeth’s second son said, “No, that couldn’t have happened because the date that’s being suggested I was at home with the children.
Andrew — who is father to Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie — added, “I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose sort of four or five in the afternoon. And then because the Duchess (Sarah Ferguson) was away, we have a simple rule in the family that when one is away the other one is there. I was on terminal leave at the time from the Royal Navy so, therefore, I was at home.”
Matters became slightly trickier for Andrew when Maitlis raised the issue of a photograph showing the royal with his arm around Giuffre’s waist — which is thought to have been taken inside the London home of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell on March 10, 2001. Giuffre was 17 years old at the time.
“I have absolutely no memory of that photograph ever being taken,” Andrew told Maitlis, before questioning the authenticity of the picture itself because he’s wearing his “traveling clothes” as opposed to his regular suit and tie.
The photograph was given to the FBI, who has never questioned its authenticity, Giuffre told PEOPLE in an interview earlier this year.
During an August hearing for Epstein, his victims were invited by the district court judge to make victim impact statements. Afterward, Giuffre spoke to reporters.
“He knows exactly what he’s done,” she said at the time of the royal, “and I hope he comes clean.”
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Meanwhile, Prince Andrew may have withdrawn from his royal work, but he is continuing with some travel plans as he promotes one of his key projects in the coming days. He is set to head to Bahrain in the Persian Gulf for one of his entrepreneur-supporting events for his Pitch@Palace program.
The program, which started in the U.K. five years ago as a platform to amplify and accelerate the work of entrepreneurs, has branched out worldwide and the latest meeting is scheduled for November 27.