Royal sources condemn dramatisation of Andrew’s car-crash Newsnight interview as a ‘feeding frenzy’

Royal sources condemn dramatisation of Prince Andrew’s car-crash Newsnight interview as a ‘feeding frenzy’: Friends of Duke of York say plans for TWO film adaptions are ‘unwelcome’

  • Royal sources and a friend of Prince Andrew suggested ‘dramatic licence’ in use
  • Interview producer Sam McAlister and presenter Emily Maitlis pen rival versions
  • McAlister’s book made an apparent factual error, prompting new ‘fiction’ fears
  • BBC staff ‘seething’ at attempts to take lion’s share of the credit for team effort

Royal sources and a friend of Prince Andrew have complained of fears that ‘unwelcome’ rival bids to dramatise the duke’s Newsnight interview could bend the truth.

Palace staff said the ‘feeding frenzy’ to claim credit for the BBC‘s blockbuster scoop in 2019 is set to produce new accounts that may claim ‘dramatic licence’.

Producer Sam McAlister last month published Scoops: Behind the Scenes of the BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews, which in part told the story of how the interview with Prince Andrew was secured and offered details of the day itself.

Sam McAlister was a part of the team which secured and carried out the interview in 2019

Maitlis has now left the BBC and works for LBC. She is preparing a rival script

Sam McAlister (left) was a part of the team which secured and carried out the interview in 2019. Maitlis (right) has now left the BBC and works for LBC. She is preparing a rival script

That chapter will become a blockbuster film, titled Scoop, set to film later this year. 

McAlister's book drew the ire of BBC colleagues and makes at least one factual error, Palace staff have now claimed

McAlister’s book drew the ire of BBC colleagues and makes at least one factual error, Palace staff have now claimed 

Bafta-winning screenwriter Peter Moffat is onboard to pen the script.

Meanwhile Emily Maitlis last week announced her own scripted version of the infamous interview.

Blueprint Pictures, the producers behind a Very British Scandal and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel films, are said to have bought the rights to Maitlis’s story before McAlister teamed up with Moffat.

A friend of the duke told The Times: ‘This latest exploitation for financial gain of a book and now a film of what was, and remains, a very difficult time for the family, is unwelcome.

‘Not least as the account of events leading up to and around the interview appear to have elements of dramatic licence.’

Controversially, sources close to Andrew claim McAlister’s book made a factual error, prompting additional fears about ‘dramatic licence in the retelling’.

The infamous interview (pictured) was widely judged to be a disaster for Prince Andrew

The infamous interview (pictured) was widely judged to be a disaster for Prince Andrew

In Scoops, McAlister claimed that the Duke was left almost alone by senior staff.

She wrote: ‘No lawyers, no other royal staff. I’d expected a swarm of people to oversee it all. A tall white man comes into the room to say hello. He’s introduced as Donal McCabe, “communications secretary to the Queen” … After speaking to a couple of people, he leaves.’

But royal sources told the newspaper McCabe stayed in the room throughout the interview – and even recorded it.

Asked about the clashing versions of events, McAlister told The Times: ‘If it’s conceivable that he was there and I didn’t see him, then they are not mutually exclusive.’

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis interviewed Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace in 2019

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis interviewed Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace in 2019

Last month it was reported BBC staff were ‘seething’ at McAlister’s bid to take the lion’s share of the credit

A Corporation insider said: ‘There is internal disappointment because it is not the done thing to expose how you go about these journalistic practices and also because a lot of people who did a considerable amount of work on this show are being written out of the process in pursuit of one person’s career.

‘Former colleagues find that disappointing.’

Ms McAlister helped arrange the November 2019 interview of the Duke of York by Emily Maitlis, who quizzed him over his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

Recalling the alleged meeting at Epstein's house, Roberts (centre) said Andrew (left) was 'sweating profusely'. Also pictured, right: the now-jailed Ghislaine Maxwell

Recalling the alleged meeting at Epstein’s house, Roberts (centre) said Andrew (left) was ‘sweating profusely’. Also pictured, right: the now-jailed Ghislaine Maxwell

Widely judged to be a disaster for the duke, the interview saw Andrew fumbled when explaining his connections with Epstein and since-jailed Ghislaine Maxwell.

He also failed to express empathy with the pair’s victims, viewers largely found.

Quitting the limelight in November 2019, Andrew said: ‘Circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work.

‘I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.’

The long and sordid saga that ended with royal outcast Andrew settling rape lawsuit: From meeting Epstein to being accused of raping his ‘sex slave’ and THAT Pizza Express alibi 

By Rory Tingle and James Robinson for MailOnline 

It has been more than two decades since Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein first crossed paths.

That meeting would set in motion years of damaging allegations, embarrassing interviews and eventually a US lawsuit against the Queen’s third son.

Over the next 23 years, Epstein would go on to abuse and sex traffic young girls across the world on his private jet with his madame Ghislaine Maxwell – the woman who would introduce the financier to Prince Andrew – by his side.

Though he would go on to take his own life in prison while awaiting trial for his sex trafficking crimes, and ultimately robbing his victims of justice, the fallout would continue for those around him.

Maxwell would end up in a US prison, herself found guilty of sex trafficking for Epstein, while Prince Andrew would face accusations of sexual assault by one Epstein victim, Virginia Giuffre.

Determined to clear his name, Prince Andrew would agree to a toe-curling BBC in which he claimed he couldn’t have had sex with Ms Giuffre, because he was at Pizza Express at the time.

But Giuffre would continue to pursue the royal, eventually launching a US civil case against him – which has now ended in a settlement.

Here MailOnline takes a look at the sordid saga, from start to finish: 

1999: Andrew first meets Epstein, reportedly introduced through his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell.

Andrew welcomes Epstein to the Queen’s private Scottish retreat in Aberdeenshire. Andrew later says he sees Epstein ‘infrequently’, adding ‘probably no more than only once or twice a year’.

2000: Andrew and Ms Maxwell are seen on holiday with Epstein at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Epstein and Ms Maxwell attend a party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark Andrew’s 40th birthday, the Princess Royal’s 50th, the Queen Mother’s 100th and Princess Margaret’s 70th.

2001: Virginia Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew ‘three times, including one orgy’, with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Ms Maxwell’s London townhouse after they met at the Tramp nightclub on March 10. Recalling the alleged meeting, Andrew was said to be ‘sweating profusely’.  

Virginia Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew 'three times, including one orgy', with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Ms Maxwell's London townhouse after they met at the Tramp nightclub on March 10. Recalling the alleged meeting, Andrew was said to be 'sweating profusely'

Virginia Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew ‘three times, including one orgy’, with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Ms Maxwell’s London townhouse after they met at the Tramp nightclub on March 10. Recalling the alleged meeting, Andrew was said to be ‘sweating profusely’

The Duke would later claim in his infamous BBC interview that this could have never happened because he was at a children’s party at a branch of Pizza Express in Woking. In the same interview he says he has a medical condition after being shot at during the Falklands War that left him ‘unable to sweat’ because Ms Roberts, who was 17 at the time, claimed that they danced together and he had been ‘sweating profusely’ 

Ms Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew on two more occasions, at Epstein’s New York home and at an ‘orgy’ on his private island in the Caribbean.

2008: Epstein admits prostituting minors and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.

2010: Epstein is released from jail. Andrew is photographed with the disgraced Epstein in New York’s Central Park.

Footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on December 6 2010, showing him inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, from where he is seen looking out from a large door of the property waving a woman goodbye after Epstein leaves to get into a chauffeur-driven car.

2011: The duke quits his role as UK trade envoy after the fallout from the Central Park photos.

2015: Buckingham Palace denies Andrew has committed any impropriety after he is named in US court documents related to Epstein. A woman, later named in reports as Ms Roberts, alleges in papers filed in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent in the state.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Andrew, in his first public engagement since he was embroiled in the allegations, responds, saying: ‘Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to the events that have taken place in the last few weeks. I just wish to reiterate, and to reaffirm, the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.’

In April the claims against Andrew are struck from US civil court records following a federal judge’s ruling.

Newly released legal documents show that Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claims Andrew touched her breast while sitting on a couch inside the US billionaire's Manhattan apartment in 2001. Buckingham Palace denies the allegations

Newly released legal documents show that Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claims Andrew touched her breast while sitting on a couch inside the US billionaire’s Manhattan apartment in 2001. Buckingham Palace denies the allegations

2019: Newly released legal documents show that Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claims Andrew touched her breast while sitting on a couch inside the US billionaire’s Manhattan apartment in 2001.

Buckingham Palace says the allegations are ‘categorically untrue’. Epstein is found dead in his jail cell on August 10, having killed himself after being charged with sex trafficking.

Later that month a pilot on Epstein’s private jet claims Andrew was a passenger on past flights with the financier and Ms Roberts.

The Sun newspaper reported that David Rodgers said in a testimony released in August that Epstein, Andrew and the-then 17-year-old travelled to the US Virgin Islands on April 11 2001.

Buckingham Palace describes the evidence statement as having ‘a number of inconsistencies’ and said that Andrew was on a different continent in some cases.

Following Epstein’s death, a statement from the palace says that Andrew is ‘appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes’.

Breaking his silence on the issue for the first time since 2015, Andrew then releases a statement on August 24 saying: ‘At no stage during the limited time I spent with him (Epstein) did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.’

On November 16, the prince gives a ‘disastrous’ BBC interview in which he speaks about his friendship with Epstein and addresses allegations of his own sexual conduct.

On November 16, the prince gives a 'disastrous' BBC interview in which he speaks about his friendship with Epstein and addresses allegations of his own sexual conduct

On November 16, the prince gives a ‘disastrous’ BBC interview in which he speaks about his friendship with Epstein and addresses allegations of his own sexual conduct

He faced a barrage of criticism following his television appearance, with the royal accused of a lack of empathy with Epstein’s victims.

During the interview, Andrew, questioned by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, twice stated his relationship with Epstein, who died in jail while facing sex trafficking charges, had some ‘seriously beneficial outcomes’, giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.

The royal maintained he did not recall meeting Ms Roberts and did not spend time with her at Tramp Nightclub in London on March 10 in 2001 after which she claims the pair first had sex.

The duke denies sleeping with her on three separate occasions, saying the encounter in 2001 did not happen as he had taken his daughter Princess Beatrice to Pizza Express in Woking for a party, and they spent the rest of the day together.

The duke denies sleeping with her on three separate occasions, saying the encounter in 2001 did not happen as he had taken his daughter Princess Beatrice to Pizza Express in Woking for a party, and they spent the rest of the day together.

The duke denies sleeping with her on three separate occasions, saying the encounter in 2001 did not happen as he had taken his daughter Princess Beatrice to Pizza Express in Woking for a party, and they spent the rest of the day together.

He also said a medical condition after being shot at during the Falklands War left him ‘unable to sweat’ because Ms Roberts, who was 17 at the time, claimed that they danced together and he had been ‘sweating profusely’. 

The Duke of York said: ‘I was with the children and I’d taken Beatrice to a Pizza Express in Woking for a party at I suppose sort of 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

‘And then because the Duchess 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.’ 

However he continues to strongly deny any wrongdoing and claims he has never even met Ms Roberts, now a mother-of-three living in Australia who goes by her married name, Virginia Giuffre. 

Following the disastrous interview, which is widely panned, Prince Andrew announces in November that he will step back from frontline royal duties for the ‘foreseeable future’. A number of companies with association to the prince step back. 

He says at the time he deeply sympathises with sex offender Epstein’s victims and everyone who ‘wants some form of closure’. 

2020: With the Covid pandemic occupying much of the news and the minds of the British public, Prince Andrew has the chance to lie low, which he does, in Windsor Castle. 

Andrew hires Gary Bloxsome, a UK criminal defence solicitor, early in the year, just weeks after his car-crash Newsnight interview. 

Despite him lying low, talk continues to flow in newspapers like The Telegraph and The Times that he is planning a ‘rebranding’ and hopes to one day return to frontline royal duties.

He is praised by one senior palace aide for not appearing in official wedding photographs at the marriage of his daughter Princess Beatrice to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. One said it shows a ‘level of maturity’ from Prince Andrew.

Prince Andrew is praised by one senior palace aide for not appearing in official wedding photographs at the marriage of his daughter Princess Beatrice to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. One said it shows a 'level of maturity' from Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew is praised by one senior palace aide for not appearing in official wedding photographs at the marriage of his daughter Princess Beatrice to Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi. One said it shows a ‘level of maturity’ from Prince Andrew

However, despite attempting to keep a low-profile, the headlines continue for Prince Andrew. 

In February the US attorney for the Southern District of New York claims prosecutors and the FBI had repeatedly contacted the Duke of York’s lawyers to follow up on his previous pledge that he was ‘willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency’.

In November, Lisa Bloom, who represents six of Epstein’s alleged victims, calls on Andrew to submit to an interview with the FBI in their investigation into Ghislaine Maxwell. Sources close to Andrew say he is willing to speak to the FBI.

2021:  In August, Virginia Giuffre files a lawsuit in the US against Andrew accusing him of sexual assault. In the civil case she alleges she had sex with Andrew and he was aware of her age.

She also claims hat she was a victim of sex trafficking when she was forced to have sex with him in 2001.

‘I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me. The powerful and the rich are not exempt from being held responsible for their actions,’ she said in a statement via her lawyers in August that year.

Andrew continues to vehemently denies the claim. He hires US defence attorney Andrew Brettler to represent him. He describes the lawsuit as ‘baseless, non-viable, and possibly unlawful.’

Initially there is some debate over whether Prince Andrew has received the lawsuit. His lawyers claim the royal has not been properly served.

Giuffre’s lawyers claim the legal papers were handed over to a Metropolitan police officer on duty at the main gates of Andrew’s Windsor Great Park home on 27 August. 

David Boies, representing Giuffre, said the complaint had been ‘delivered to the last known address of the defendant’. He added that the documents had also been sent ‘by Royal Mail’.

David Boies, representing Giuffre, said the complaint had been 'delivered to the last known address of the defendant'. He added that the documents had also been sent 'by Royal Mail'

David Boies, representing Giuffre, said the complaint had been ‘delivered to the last known address of the defendant’. He added that the documents had also been sent ‘by Royal Mail’

A previously secret 2009 settlement between Giuffre and Epstein is raised. Prince Andrew’s lawyers claim the settlement protects the royal from Giuffre lawsuit. The judge agrees to unseal the agreement.

Lawyers for the Duke of York also file a motion claiming Giuffre currently lives in Australia and so the court does not have jurisdiction to hold the lawsuit. But her lawyers argue the civil case was properly filed in Manhattan federal court because she is a citizen of Colorado and some of the sexual misconduct she alleges took place in the state of New York.

Meanwhile, a jury in New York finds Epstein’s former madame Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of sex-trafficking.

The British socialite is also found guilty of conspiracy to entice individuals under the age of 17 to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity, conspiracy to transport individuals under the age of 17 to travel in interstate commerce with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity; transportation of an individual under the age of 17 with intent to engage in illegal sexual activity; and conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of individuals under the age of 18. 

A jury in New York finds Epstein's former madame Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured in a court sketch) guilty of sex-trafficking.

A jury in New York finds Epstein’s former madame Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured in a court sketch) guilty of sex-trafficking.

On December 30, Giuffre hits back. Her legal team ask the prince’s lawyers to prove he cannot sweat in a court filing. The request is made in relation to Prince Andrew’s claims in his disastrous 2019 Newsnight interview.

In the filing, it says: ‘If Prince Andrew truly has no documents concerning his communications with Maxwell or Epstein, his travel to Florida, New York, or various locations in London, his alleged medical inability to sweat, or anything that would support the alibis he gave during his BBC interview, then continuing with discovery will not be burdensome to him at all’.

2022: The 2009 agreement between Giuffre and Epstein is unsealed. It shows Giuffre settled with Epstein for $500,000. In the settlement, Giuffre is show to agree not to go after ‘other potential defendants,’ defined as ‘second parties’. But it does not specifically name Prince Andrew. His legal team say he is included under ‘other potential defendants’ and ask the judge to throw out the case.

Alongside attempting to use the Epstein agreement to shield Prince Andrew, his legal team claim Giuffre hadn’t sufficiently alleged any violations of the New York Penal Code.

They also argued that Giuffre’s allegations would have been time-barred by the statute of limitations if not for the 2019 New York Child Victims Act, which they labeled ‘unconstitutional’ and that Giuffre’s allegations in her complaint were not sufficiently detailed.

But in a major blow to Prince Andrew case, a New York judge throws out his legal challenge to dismiss the lawsuit and rules it can go ahead. 

A day later, the Queen strips Andrew of a range of military affiliations and royal patronages after more than 150 veterans write to describe their ‘upset and anger’. 

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