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Show 'about as bad as it gets' for Andrew

Panorama's investigation into sex allegations surrounding the Duke of York is "about as bad as it gets for Andrew", a royal writer says.

Penny Junor says the duke's accuser, Virginia Giuffre, came across as a more sympathetic character on the BBC One show compared with his own Newsnight interview.

But she warns there is no way to know which one is telling the truth.

Giuffre, in the interview on Monday evening, claimed she was trafficked by since-disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein and forced to have sex with Andrew when she was a teenager, which the duke categorically denies.

She said Andrew was "the most hideous dancer I've ever seen in my life" and "his sweat was ... raining basically everywhere".

Giuffre added: "This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked, this is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guys' royalty."

Junor told PA: "This is about as bad as it gets for Andrew.

"Virginia Giuffre sounds very plausible in this interview, while most of Andrew's excuses in his interview with Emily Maitlis were laughable.

"She also comes across as a much more sympathetic character so viewers will warm to her.

"This made gruelling watching and the stories these girls tell are terrifying.

"Jeffrey Epstein was a monster and if what the girls say about (socialite) Ghislaine Maxwell is true, then she was no better. Whether Andrew actually slept with Virginia Giuffre I think is still unproven."

Junor warned: "Virginia Giuffre is absolutely right that only one of them is telling the truth, but we still have no way of knowing which of them it is, and I think we should be cautious about which one we choose to believe. That has to be left to the FBI."

Graham Smith of Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, said: "This interview is likely to be hugely damaging to Andrew and the royal family.

"The Queen and Charles have known about these accusations for eight years and did nothing until it became a PR disaster.

"Still the royals hide behind palace gates denying the allegations but refusing to do anything that might help law enforcement or alleged trafficking victims in the US and the UK."

Smith called on the duke to be properly investigated by British police.

"To hear that Giuffre made a complaint directly to the Metropolitan Police, and they did nothing, is scandalous," he said.

But Daniel Janner QC warned the BBC ran the risk of a trial by media of the duke.

The founder of Falsely Accused Individuals for Reform, which campaigns for anonymity before charge in relation to sexual offences, said: "There is a danger in the Prince Andrew case of assuming guilt by association. He is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

"Those making allegations against Prince Andrew should have their evidence forensically tested to ensure they are not motivated by false compensation claims against a lucrative estate."

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said in response to the allegations on Panorama: "It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts (Giuffre). Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."

© PAA 2019