Businesses and charities abandon Prince Andrew as fallout from 'car crash' interview continues

Victoria Ward
The Duke of York, speaking for the first time about his links to Jeffrey Epstein in an interview with BBC Newsnight's Emily Maitlis - Mark Harrison/BBC

The Duke of York was plunged into a deepening crisis today as a succession of charities and companies threatened to sever their ties with him.

As the fallout from the Duke's “disastrous” BBC Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein showed no sign of abating, the Outward Bound Trust, the prominent youth organisation, convened an emergency board meeting to consider his patronage.  

KPMG, one of the world’s biggest accountancy firms, confirmed it had pulled the plug on its sponsorship of Pitch@Palace, the Duke’s flagship charity initiative, with sources citing “adverse media publicity.”

AstraZeneca, another partner, said: "Our three year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed."

In a further blow to his reputation, the Duke was also accused of using the racist n-word during a business meeting with a Downing Street adviser seven years ago.

Former 10 aide, Rohan Silva has accused the Duke of using the N-word Credit: Paul Grover 

The Telegraph has also learnt that more legal documents are due to be released in the US relating to the predatory sexual activities of Epstein that will name the Duke.

A judge will decide whether to unseal the new tranche of documents within weeks.

At a press conference in California on Monday a new victim of Epstein, described as "Jane Doe 15" said she had been invited to a party on the paedophile's private island at which the Duke would be a guest. 

She said: "I was contacted by one of Jeffrey Epstein's assistants and invited to Epstein's island where I was told Prince Andrew, among others, would be a guest.

"I declined the invitation out of fear. I had only experienced a glimpse of Epstein's world, but it left me with residual trauma which seriously impacted the trajectory of my life."

The woman said the Duke and "any others who are close to Epstein should come forward and give a statement under oath on what information they have."

The woman's lawyer, Gloria Allred, said: "I've called on Prince Andrew to voluntarily speak with law enforcement in the United States, that's the FBI, and he should do that as soon as possible.

"Every day where someone who has relevant information does not come forward might seem like a year or two to those who are victims. They deserve the truth."

Amid the growing backlash to the Duke's Newsnight interview, it emerged  that even the Duchess of York, her ex-husband’s staunchest supporter, has accepted that the interview was “a car crash”, according to friends.

Prince Andrew with convicted sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein

KPMG was one of the founding partners of Pitch@Palace, the Duke’s startup mentorship scheme that provides a platform for would-be entrepreneurs.

Its decision to sever ties with the initiative will be considered a major blow for the Duke, and the first concrete sign of a potentially hugely damaging fallout from his “disastrous” BBC interview over his relationship with Epstein.

Other key sponsors have indicated that the Duke may yet suffer a catastrophic backlash.

The Outward Bound Trust, one of the Royal Family’s favourite charities, said it would be reviewing the Duke’s patronage at an additional board meeting this week that had been hastily arranged in the wake of the Newsnight interview.

Nick Barrett, chief executive of the charity, said: “We wouldn’t be having the meeting if there weren’t concerns. We are taking this super-seriously.”

The Duke was only named patron of the charity in March, taking over from the Duke of Edinburgh, who had held the role since 1953. He had previously been chair of the charity's trustees since 1999. 

Sources say even Sarah Ferguson has accepted the interview was a car crash 

His daughter, Princess Beatrice, joined the board of trustees as her grandfather stood down but cannot attend this week’s meeting due to concerns over the obvious conflict of interest.

The NSPCC, which the Duke referenced in the television interview, has already distanced itself from the royal, making it clear that it had not worked with him for ten years.

A spokesperson said: “Prince Andrew was a patron of the NSPCC Full Stop Campaign, which ended in 2009.”

Youth development charity Power2, for which he is patron, is reported to have said its position remains “unchanged” but added: “We will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

At Huddersfield University, where the Duke is chancellor, the students' union panel has voted on a motion to lobby him to resign. The result of the ballot will be published in the next few days.

The Duke’s decision to speak to BBC2’s Newsnight was made in a bid to draw a line under mounting speculation over his links with Epstein and claims, which he denies, that he had sex on three occassions with Virginia Giuffre Roberts in 2001. She was 17 at the time and claims she was trafficked by Epstein. 

Prince Andrew at an NSPCC event  Credit: Tim Graham 

But the extraordinary 45-minute interview is widely thought to have had the opposite effect, with experts warning that he had placed himself “firmly at the centre” of the scandal in a manner that would seriously overshadow his work.

His apparent lack of empathy for Epstein’s victims and his refusal to express regret over their friendship did little to rehabilitate his reputation.

While he accepted that staying at Epstein’s house following his release from prison in 2010 had been “definitely the wrong thing to do” at no point did the 59-year-old royal apologise for his behaviour.

He has since faced mounting pressure to give evidence to US prosecutors.

The Duke is said to have told the Queen that his Newsnight appearance on was a success although he is said to have told friends that he “regretted” not expressing sympathy for Epstein's victims.

Pitch@ Palace has raised  £1.1billion in economic activity and created nearly 6,000 jobs since its launch five years ago.

When the Telegraph first reported last month that some of its key sponsors were “starting to get the jitters” over their links with the Duke, sources in his office insisted that the initiative had “a solid group of partners and continues to be overwhelmed with opportunities".

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said last night: “KPMG's sponsorship contract with Pitch@Palace finished at the end of October. A full programme of Pitch@Palace events is continuing across the United Kingdom.”

The spokesperson added:  "The Duke of York decided to take part in this interview. There has been continued speculation in the media about The Duke’s former friendship with Mr Epstein and the allegations, which have been repeatedly denied, with regard to Ms Roberts. HRH wished to address them clearly and publicly."