Britain’s former Consul General in the US Sir Thomas Harris has denied Prince Andrew’s earlier televised claims that the Duke of York stayed at the diplomat’s official residence during Andrew’s trip to New York in April 2001, when he was reported to have had a sexual encounter with 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, now Giuffre, at the townhouse of child abuser Jeffrey Epstein.
In a Saturday interview with BBC Newsnight, Prince Andrew maintained that, while he “probably did” drop in on Epstein during his 2001 US trip, he “definitely” did not stay at the financier’s house and instead spent his nights at the residence of Britain’s consul general.
“Because of what I was doing, I was staying with the consul general, which is further down the street [from Epstein’s home]”, Prince Andrew said during the Saturday interview, which reportedly was not approved by the Queen. “So I wasn’t staying there. I may have visited but no, definitely didn’t, definitely, definitely, no, no, no activity”.
British diplomat Sir Thomas Harris, who served as consul general in New York from 1999 to 2004, however, said that he had “no recollection” of Prince Andrew staying at his official residence near Central Park and neither was this visit formally registered in the Court Circular from 9-11 April 2001.
“I have no recollection of him staying at the address in April. I don’t have a note of the dates of all the visits – the Palace will. It doesn’t ring any bell whatsoever”, Sir Thomas told the Daily Mail.
“Normally, I would give him a dinner party in the evening”, he said, while admitting that he did not have a copy of his 2001 diary to back up his statements but still maintains that the Duke of York’s visit to the residence should have been documented in other official chronicles.
“If he stayed with me, we would normally arrange for businesses to come in. My understanding is that it would be in the Court Circular. I was led to believe that was the normal form. If you go through the Court Circular, you will come across the other visits he paid to New York. That was the typical pattern”.
The absence of records, as well as his inability to recall Prince of Andrew’s stay, led the former consul general to conclude the royal was not staying with him the night in New York during when the sexual encounters with 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre was purported to have occurred, despite Prince Andrew’s claims to the contrary. Buckingham Palace also backed up Prince Andrew’s recollection of events while insisting that he did not stay with Epstein on either 9 or 11 April.
The British royal was earlier forced to retreat from his public duties following an outcry caused by the Saturday interview detailing his friendship and ties with the notorious American paedophile. During the conversation with Emily Maitlis, Prince Andrew also claimed that he could not have met Epstein’s alleged sex slave Virginia Giuffre on 10 March 2001 in London, during which Giuffre was reported to have had her first sexual encounter with the royal, because he took his daughter Beatrice to Pizza Express that day. The Duke of York’s comment raised many eyebrows and caused a flurry of comments with social media users questioning Prince Andrew’s selective memory, as he maintained having “no recollection” of meeting Giuffre and taking a now infamous photo with her.
A statement by His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG. pic.twitter.com/LfMFwMyhcb— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 20, 2019
Andrew came under increased scrutiny in August following Jeffrey Epstein’s controversial suicide and revelations that he allegedly had ties to Epstein, a convicted sex offender and trafficker -accusations he vehemently denied. Virginia Giuffre, who remains one of Jeffrey Epstein’s most prominent underage sex accusers, claimed to have had three sexual encounters with the British royal, one of which purportedly occurred at Epstein’s mansion during Prince Andrew’s visit to New York in April 2001.