The Duke of York has said that “at no stage during the limited time I spent with” disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein “did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction”.
In a statement released on Saturday, the royal said: “It is apparent to me since the suicide of Mr Epstein that there has been an immense amount of media speculation about so much in his life. This is particularly the case in relation to my former association or friendship with Mr Epstein.
“Therefore I am eager to clarify the facts to avoid further speculation.
“I met Mr Epstein in 1999. During the time I knew him, I saw him infrequently and probably no more than only once or twice a year. I have stayed in a number of his residences.
“At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction”.
The duke went on to offer sympathies to those affected by Epstein’s actions and suicide.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
This comes after the duke released an earlier statement on Monday saying that he was “appalled” by recent reports relating to the Epstein scandal.
Andrew ― who is Queen Elizabeth II’s third child, and eighth in line of succession to the throne ― released the statement after new footage emerged showing him inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion in 2010.
The video, obtained by MailOnline, was reportedly shot on Dec. 6, 2010, around the time the royal was photographed with disgraced billionaire Epstein in New York’s Central Park.
It shows the duke looking out from a large door of the mansion waving a woman goodbye after Epstein leaves to get in a chauffeur-driven car.
Amid accusations of a lack of judgment about his links with Epstein, the Buckingham Palace statement 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.”