The Prime Minister has declined to offer the sex-scandal-hit Duke of York his public support during an interview but London mayor Boris Johnson has expressed sympathy for the royal.
When David Cameron was asked if Prince Andrew, who has been accused of having underage sex with a teenager, had his support he replied by saying he was not going to comment.
In an LBC radio interview, Mr Cameron said: “I’m not going to make any comment on it. Obviously, the Prince has made his own views very, very clear, and I think I’ll leave it at that.”
The prince was named in US court documents as having sex with a woman, identified in reports as Virginia Roberts, on three separate occasions when she was a minor.
She is said to have been “procured” for him by US billionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who she accuses of using her as a “sex slave”. The prince vehemently denies the allegations.
Mr Johnson has given his support to the prince, praising his role in boosting British trade and said he had sympathy for him.
“Prince Andrew, let’s be very clear, is a guy who does a huge amount of unsung, unheralded work for this country,” he told LBC.
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He added: “People, they go on and on about the air miles and so on, actually I have seen that guy get out there and sell this country, try and help British firms to get business around the world.
“He does a huge amount of good and a huge amount of hard work. So if you are asking me whether I have sympathy for him, of course I do.”
The words of support the prince has received from the London mayor echo those of his former wife Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, who has described her ex-partner as a “great man”. The 55-year-old duchess reportedly made the comments as she left the luxury ski chalet in Verbier in Switzerland on Monday, where she had been holidaying with Prince Andrew and their younger daughter Eugenie.
She said: “He is the greatest man there is. It was the finest moment of my life in 1986 when I married him. He is a great man, the best man in the world.”
Ms Roberts, a US citizen, waived her anonymity in an interview with the Mail on Sunday in 2011, in which she claimed she had been sexually exploited by Epstein – a former friend of the prince.
In the US court papers, she further alleges that between 1999 and 2002 she “was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor’’ in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein.
The accusation is contained in a motion filed last month in a Florida court as part of a lawsuit over how federal prosecutors handled the case of Epstein, who was jailed for 18 months in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution.
In a strongly worded statement Buckingham Palace has said: “It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. The allegations made are false and without any foundation.”
Yesterday leading US lawyer Alan Dershowitz who, court papers allege, also slept with Ms Roberts when she was underage, began legal proceedings to clear his name.
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