London's Metropolitan Police ignored two previously undisclosed complaints by women who claimed that convicted child sex abuser Jeffrey Epstein had molested them.
The UK's Channel 4 News reported on Friday evening that an unnamed woman made a formal complaint in December 2019 — four months after Epstein's death in prison — that he had sexually abused her.
Another woman, a charity campaigner, made a complaint as early as January 2015.
The report contradicts claims by police sources earlier in the week asserting that no victims had come forward to back Channel 4's allegations that the millionaire financier and his friend, Ghislaine Maxwell, groomed and trafficked at least half a dozen women and girls to the UK for sexual exploitation by his rich and powerful friends — allegedly including Prince Andrew.
On Friday night, the Met appeared to admit the report was true, but said the 2019 complaint was not followed up because the woman declined to make a formal statement.
"In December 2019 the MPS was contacted by representatives of another person regarding allegations of sexual assault against Jeffrey Epstein. Officers spoke to this person in February 2020 and recorded their allegations," the force told Channel 4 News.
"However, the person did not make a formal statement or wish officers to pursue the allegations. No investigation was commenced."
Previously, the only accuser to go public was Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an American woman who said in May 2015 that Epstein and Maxwell brought her to the UK in March 2001, when she was 17, to have sex with Prince Andrew at Maxwell's house in London. The prince, who admits that he was a friend of Epstein's, has denied the allegations but refuses to travel to the US to testify.
The Met said decided in 2016 not to investigate the 2015 claims. It reviewed that decision in November 2019 after the Epstein scandal returned to the public eye, but decided it was “not the appropriate authority” to conduct a criminal probe that would be “largely focused on activities and relationships outside the UK”.
The force said it was "reviewing" the information from the news programme.
"We will investigate where there is sufficient evidence of an offence having taken place, where we are the appropriate authority to do so and when those against whom allegations are made are alive. At this time, no investigation has been commenced," the Met said.
But Nazir Afzal, the former Chief Crown Prosecutor for northwest England, said this week that there was “clearly enough evidence for the police to investigate more thoroughly than they have done up to now”.
She told the channel in August 2020: "The locus and focus of any investigation in relation to Jeffrey Epstein is clearly in America, and if the Americans need our assistance at any stage, then we will give them that.”
Awaiting trial in August 2019, Epstein was found dead in his jail cell, with his neck broken in several places. His cellmate had been removed hours earlier, and the night shift guards had failed to conduct their visual suicide watch checks every 30 minutes, as ordered, and both CCTV cameras in the cell were shown to have malfunctioned.
An autopsy concluded that Epstein hanged himself. His lawyers, however, contest the conclusion and widespread scepticism remains that the high-profile financier and pedophile could potentially have incriminated many wealthy and powerful people and politicians.
Maxwell, the daughter of the late UK newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, who also died in mysterious circumstances, is currently incarcerated in a New York prison awaiting trial.