The PR guru hired by Prince Andrew to launch a “fightback” against fallout from the Jeffrey Epstein scandal “quit” just weeks into the job, reports the Mail on Sunday.
The outlet writes that Jason Stein, who was taken on as Communications Secretary to the Duke of York in September and had been dubbed as the “master of the dark arts”, stepped down two weeks before the prince’s bombshell BBC interview with Emily Maitlis regarding his links with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
This comes as the outlet cites aides reportedly “arguing” as they feared the interview would leave the prince “terribly exposed”, while one aide thought Prince Andrew risked being perceived as “an entitled idiot”.
While it had been reported that Newsnight producers first contacted the Palace about a possible interview almost a year ago, with the prince allegedly responding that he didn’t want “to be shouted at for half an hour”, many were surprised that on 14 November the beleaguered royal finally sat down for the interview in Buckingham Palace’s South Drawing Room.
Sources claimed the prince was talked out of his reservations by private secretary Amanda Thirsk, who succeeded in getting him to consent to the first public questioning about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and the claims which he has long denied that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl – one of Epstein’s accusers.
The outlet quoted a source as saying a similar voluntary interview with the FBI was unlikely.
“He’s not going to be travelling to America any time soon I can tell you that. The FBI would question him, it is that simple. They [the Palace] just aren’t going to put him in that position. You can’t have a Royal landing in the US and then being asked to take part in questioning. I think it will be quite a while before he goes there,’ said the anonymous source.
In his BBC interview aired on 16 November Prince Andrew, the Duke of York, said he was “too honourable” to end his relationship with convicted billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
The member of the British monarchy, who was photographed at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion in 2010 and accused of having sex with one of his alleged underage victims, said he stayed at the house of his then-friend for the sake of “convenience.”
The photos were taken months after Epstein’s Florida prison sentence on charges of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution.
Berating himself for his loyalty to Epstein even after he was convicted, the Duke of York said:
“At the time I felt it was the honourable and right thing to do, and I admit fully that my judgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable, but that’s just the way it is,” he said.
The Duke of York has "categorically" denied having any sexual contact with the alleged underage American woman, who says she was forced to have sex with him aged 17.
"It didn't happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. …I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," Prince Andrew said in the interview.
Queen Elizabeth’s son the Duke of York has been in the media crosshairs since allegations emerged about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein and of having sex with one of the disgraced billionaire’s suspected underage sex “slaves”.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, now 35, accused deceased American financier and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein of sex trafficking her to several high-profile people, including Britain's Prince Andrew, when she was 17.
She made her first public claim in 2015, with Buckingham Palace denying the accusations.
However, they resurfaced this year amid a new probe.
A 2001 photograph of Giuffre with Prince Andrew’s arm wrapped around her waist has also surfaced.
While the woman insists the photo is authentic, UK-based media have earlier claimed, citing unnamed sources close to the royal family, that the image had been doctored.
Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied claims that he had sex with Giuffre, and previously issued statements pre-written by Buckingham Palace.
Jeffrey Epstein's death earlier this year was ruled a suicide by a coroner but generated increased suspicion as the influential American pedophile is reportedly linked to many famous and powerful people, including US Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump.
The convicted sex abuser was inexplicably taken off of suicide watch, despite reportedly trying to kill himself just weeks earlier.
Epstein was arrested in 2005 for molesting an underage girl. After being convicted of being a sex offender and pedophile, Epstein served a light sentence of just 13 months.
Epstein was arrested a second time in July 2019, and charged with trafficking minor girls at his residences for sex, with some of the charges dating back to the 2000s.
The disgraced financier pleaded not guilty to all charges but faced up to 45 years in prison had he been convicted.