New excruciating particulars about Andrew’s automotive crash Newsnight interview are revealed

59768981 0 Prince Andrew sat down with Newsnight on November 14 2019 for an a 29 1656708676191


We have been sitting head to head round a small desk in Buckingham Palace — three of us from BBC Newsnight, plus Prince Andrew, his personal secretary and Princess Beatrice, who was writing in a pocket book.

At stake was the interview each broadcaster the world over would have given their proper arm to just do then. Would Andrew comply with go on TV to speak about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein?

What adopted was an intense two hours of questioning from the prince and his daughter — and with each minute, it grew to become ever clearer that this wasn’t received but.

As a Newsnight producer, I would been pursuing this interview for months and was determined to land it.

In order we talked, I made a decision to offer it to Prince Andrew very bluntly.

‘Sir. I’ve lived on this nation for over 40 years and, till now, I solely knew two issues about you. It is that you simply’re referred to as ‘Air Miles Andy’ and ‘Randy Andy’ — and I can completely let you know that the latter actually would not enable you to in your present predicament.’

Had I blown our possibilities of touchdown the interview of a lifetime? My colleagues — presenter Emily Maitlis and Newsnight deputy editor Stewart Maclean — regarded genuinely shocked.

There was a protracted pause. Then Andrew laughed. The room collectively exhaled.

Prince Andrew sat down with Newsnight on November 14, 2019 for an interview that he thought would clear his name of his association with convicted paedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who had died in jail four months earlier

Prince Andrew sat down with Newsnight on November 14, 2019 for an interview that he thought would clear his identify of his affiliation with convicted paedophile and intercourse trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who had died in jail 4 months earlier

The BBC's Emily Maitlis was tasked with interviewing the Queen's second son, who was thought to be her favourite

The BBC’s Emily Maitlis was tasked with interviewing the Queen’s second son, who was considered her favorite

It had all began innocuously — an electronic mail from a PR to me in November 2018, suggesting a chat about [email protected], Prince Andrew’s initiative to help entrepreneurs all over the world. Would Newsnight wish to interview him about it?

The easy reply was ‘no’. We by no means comply with puff items and by no means enable interviewees to offer circumstances. So I politely declined.

‘Do come again to me if the place modifications!’ I signed off.

It appeared so unlikely that I did not even inform my boss.

I assumed I would by no means hear from the PR once more. However six months later, I did: Prince Andrew was now open to a broader chat — would I be focused on studying extra? Completely.

The PR mentioned she wanted to speak to Andrew’s personal secretary, Amanda Thirsk, and he or she’d be again in contact. It was the primary time I would heard Amanda’s identify and I instantly Googled her.

She sounded suitably spectacular — a lady who’d labored for the prince for seven years, however who’d beforehand been a banker within the Metropolis. The image that emerged, after speaking to a few pals, was of somebody formidable: intelligent, thorough and fiercely loyal to Prince Andrew.

Shortly afterwards, I used to be invited to fulfill Amanda at Buckingham Palace.

I am not going to lie — I used to be excited to go. However at this stage I wasn’t hopeful about touchdown an interview.

So far as I knew, no member of the Royal Household had ever even been on Newsnight. We had no connections within the Palace. It was uncommon to even do a ‘royal’ story. Why on earth would Prince Andrew wish to discuss to us?

All I might see was a load of armed police at an open gate and could not fairly imagine anybody simply walked into Buckingham Palace that approach, however that is precisely what occurred. They regarded me up on a listing, took my ID and rang by way of to somebody who sanctioned my entry.

The ocean of police and weapons parted, and I started the lengthy stroll to the palace door. The a whole bunch of vacationers stacked up towards the gates stared as I traipsed throughout the cobbles, considerably impeded by a perilously excessive pair of knee-high, gold-heeled Kurt Geiger boots.

As the interview began, what followed was one astonishing answer after another, according to Sam McAlister. 'Each time it couldn't get any worse, it did'

Because the interview started, what adopted was one astonishing reply after one other, based on Sam McAlister. ‘Every time it could not get any worse, it did’

'The answers showed how totally removed the prince was from the reality of an average life'

‘The solutions confirmed how completely eliminated the prince was from the fact of a mean life’

I used to be directed to a modest ready room that featured a teeny marble mantelpiece with a big gilt mirror and a loudly ticking picket clock. On a little bit desk sat a framed image of Her Majesty, in a yellow jacket and hat.

Feeling daring, I picked up the black body. It wasn’t heavy; it regarded like an inexpensive picket body from Ikea.

As I sat there I might hear employees chattering about some royal go to to Sainsbury’s, and watched as a soldier got here in, eliminated his enormous bearskin cap, and talked for a second concerning the day. Then two PRs arrived, and we have been taken upstairs in old style lifts, previous enormous busts of former kings and queens, and thru swathes of empty corridors. Amanda’s workplace was a small room, peppered with footage of Prince Andrew and his household.

Andrew's private secretary, Amanda Thirsk, a woman who'd worked for the prince for seven years, but who'd previously been a banker in the City

Andrew’s personal secretary, Amanda Thirsk, a lady who’d labored for the prince for seven years, however who’d beforehand been a banker within the Metropolis

She was precisely as I anticipated — impeccable manners, thorough and direct, not a hair misplaced. We talked for 2 hours, and agreed that the interview would embody every little thing from Brexit to the way forward for the monarchy in addition to some other related points that arose.

Then Amanda mentioned there was only one pink line: we could not discuss concerning the challenge of Andrew’s friendship with Epstein. My coronary heart sank.

Again then, Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t a reputation that rang bells for lots of people. Even so, I knew we needed to decline the interview.

This was in Could 2019. Eight weeks later, Epstein was arrested. Twelve weeks later, he was useless. The complete scale of his prison behaviour was coming into sharp focus, and Virginia Roberts Giuffre, and different victims, had began to talk.

Twenty weeks on, I managed to influence Amanda that Prince Andrew’s place — of silence within the face of world scrutiny — was untenable.

Twelve lengthy days later got here the e-mail we had hoped for. It arrived from Amanda, early on a Saturday morning, November 9: might presenter Emily Maitlis, our deputy editor Stewart and I come to the palace in two days? Prince Andrew wished to fulfill us.

Monday, November 11, 2019

‘Morning!’ Prince Andrew’s voice was upbeat as he got here into Amanda’s room. He was smiling. He appeared pleasant. ‘I hope you do not thoughts, however I introduced somebody with me!’ We exchanged glances. Who might it’s? A lawyer? Possibly somebody from the Queen’s employees?

Jeffrey Epstein on March 28, 2017. Prince Andrew's BBC interview centred around his relationship with convicted paedophile and sex trafficker Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein on March 28, 2017. Prince Andrew’s BBC interview centred round his relationship with convicted paedophile and intercourse trafficker Epstein

After which, from behind him, got here Princess Beatrice. To be frank, the one factor worse than chatting with a potential interviewee about allegations of sexual impropriety and intercourse with a 17-year-old woman is having to take action in entrance of his daughter.

Princess Beatrice was well mannered and engaged, however, not like her father, she was evidently anxious concerning the assembly and clearly there to guard his pursuits.

I would heard she was near the Queen. The Prince’s eldest daughter was now, I felt, the one who might make the distinction between us getting the interview or not.

All of us sat down, crammed into that tiny room a couple of toes from each other. What was most shocking was that there was by no means any try to seek out out what we might ask or to position circumstances on the questions.

For his half, the prince revealed for the primary time that he supposedly had an ‘alibi’. He instructed us about Pizza Categorical. A youngsters’s social gathering. He talked about his sweating, or lack thereof. He talked about how not too long ago he’d seen Ghislaine Maxwell [Epstein’s procurer of under-age girls]. He admitted he’d made errors of judgment. It was jaw-dropping stuff.

Princess Andrew

Princess Beatrice

Princess Beatrice, who was current throughout the interview, was well mannered and engaged, however, not like her father, she was evidently anxious concerning the assembly and clearly there to guard his pursuits

After which he mentioned one thing I am going to always remember.

As we concluded, he turned to Princess Beatrice and mentioned that they had rather a lot to debate and may go, straight after, upstairs, to speak about it, over a cup of tea, with Mum.

For a break up second, I virtually scoffed; what on earth did a grown man want to speak to his mum for? After which it hit me. ‘Mum’ was the Queen.

Lower than 24 hours later, he agreed to the interview.

I felt I would not actually imagine it till these cameras began rolling. However I would not have to attend lengthy. This was on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. And in simply two days we’d all discover ourselves again inside Buckingham Palace, head to head with Prince Andrew once more, conducting what turned out to be an interview extra surprising than any of us might ever have predicted.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Fifteen toes: that is how far-off I’m from the again of Andrew’s chair. I can see the soles of his sneakers (hardly scuffed), the again of his head (new haircut), the hem of his trousers (a superbly judged size) and the nervous tapping of his left foot. The chair appears a little bit small for his physique.

My very own chair is up towards the wall of an opulent room bigger than most London flats. I am sitting subsequent to a really pleasant lady who, seeing how nervous I’m, kindly affords me a martini.

Gin, with a twist. Her Majesty can be a fan. It is a type of exchanges you could hardly imagine is going on, chatting idly with somebody in Buckingham Palace about your monarch’s penchant for a cocktail.

This charming lady is the prince’s equerry. She’s sure this interview will clear his identify — that it is all been a horrible misunderstanding. That, after this, issues will return to regular.

Emily Maitlis is nervous, busying herself along with her notes, the results of two days of relentless follow and brainstorms with a small staff.

I really feel panic rise inside me. We’re about to interview a member of the Royal Household about his connections with a sex-trafficker. We’re about to ask him, on digicam, whether or not he had intercourse with Virginia Roberts Giuffre, whether or not he knew about Epstein’s horrible acts, and whether or not he was complicit.

The infamous photograph of Prince Andrew with his arm around the waist of a then-17-year-old Virginia Giuffre, with Ghislaine Maxwell smiling in the background

The notorious {photograph} of Prince Andrew together with his arm across the waist of a then-17-year-old Virginia Giuffre, with Ghislaine Maxwell smiling within the background

Aside from the equerry, Amanda is right here along with her deputy. That is it. No attorneys, no different royal employees. I would anticipated a swarm of individuals to supervise all of it.

A tall white man comes into the room to say hi there. He is launched as Donal McCabe, ‘Communications Secretary to the Queen’. His go to is kind of vital; it implies that the Queen possible is aware of concerning the interview.

After chatting with a few individuals, he leaves. Afterwards, this appears a missed alternative — if he’d stayed, he’d have recognized the contents of the interview first-hand. Maybe he would have realised how terribly this might play out for Andrew, for the palace, for the monarchy.

Maybe they might have had extra time to organize a response. Harm limitation of some variety. Because it was, the primary time McCabe would have seen the interview was greater than 48 hours later, alongside your entire nation.

As I await the cameras and lighting to be arrange, the equerry tells me that the identical room will likely be used after the interview for Palace ‘cinema evening’. After we go away, members of the Royal Family will congregate to look at a movie, perhaps eat popcorn.

Prince Andrew all of the sudden seems, and makes his approach over to speak to me. He is pleasant and chatty. We focus on ‘cinema evening’ and he opens the doorways on the finish of the room to disclose the projector. Seems this night they’re displaying a Renée Zellweger movie — Judy — have I seen it?

We chat a little bit about Judy Garland, the climate, floods in Inexperienced Park, after which he strikes on to the crew, making solutions about microphones and different technicalities.

Twenty minutes later, we’re able to go. Amanda settles herself close to Andrew, sitting on the ground, pocket book in her hand. Emily nods. The cameras are rolling. We’re off.

The primary query Emily asks — why he is determined to speak now — is the one I get requested probably the most in the present day. Why take the large threat?

It is simple to look again now and say that the choice was reckless. However few individuals think about their very own solutions doing them hurt.

Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured walking behind Andrew at the wedding of Aurelia Cecil and Rupert Stephenson was charged with eight counts relating to grooming under-age girls for Epstein and was recently sentenced to 20 years in jail

Ghislaine Maxwell, pictured strolling behind Andrew on the wedding ceremony of Aurelia Cecil and Rupert Stephenson was charged with eight counts referring to grooming under-age women for Epstein and was not too long ago sentenced to twenty years in jail

You even have to recollect the life Andrew has lived. The second son, at all times mentioned to be the Queen’s favorite. Granted extraordinary entry and alternative. Fawned over.

The typical CEO would by no means have taken this threat. They’d have calculated 100 causes to not take the prospect. However Andrew and his individuals will need to have thought this hour of his life would change the general public notion of him for the higher.

We do not know for certain, however we assume he is spent the previous couple of days in fixed rehearsals. Like us, his staff will need to have theorised the questions, determined exactly find out how to cope with the extra critical allegations, thought of physique language and tone. Deliberated precisely if, or how, he may apologise. His reply to Emily’s query? He merely reminds us that his individuals have been speaking to Newsnight for six months and ‘truly it is an excellent alternative’.

After that, Emily gave a masterclass in calm, methodical, analytical interviewing. The interview is now used the world over, by PR and communications professionals and by individuals in disaster administration, as a shining instance of what solutions to not give whenever you’re coping with controversy. I would assumed Andrew would distance himself from Epstein. Condemn him outright and diminish their shared historical past. As an alternative, it gave the impression of they have been shut pals, and, worse, that the prince even admired him.

What adopted was one astonishing reply after one other. Every time I assumed it could not get any worse, it did. The solutions confirmed how completely eliminated the prince was from the fact of a mean life.

Had he been on Epstein’s personal aircraft? Sure. Had he stayed on his personal island? Sure. Had he stayed at his residence in Palm Seaside? Sure. Had he visited Ghislaine Maxwell’s London residence? Sure. Was Epstein at Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday celebration at Windsor Fort? Sure.

Had the prince been on Epstein's private plane? Yes. Had he stayed on his private island? Yes. Had he stayed at his home in Palm Beach? Yes. Had he visited Ghislaine Maxwell's London home? Yes. Was Epstein at Princess Beatrice's 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle? Yes.

Had the prince been on Epstein’s personal aircraft? Sure. Had he stayed on his personal island? Sure. Had he stayed at his residence in Palm Seaside? Sure. Had he visited Ghislaine Maxwell’s London residence? Sure. Was Epstein at Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday celebration at Windsor Fort? Sure.

In 2008, Epstein was jailed for soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. Andrew mentioned they’d had no contact throughout that point. However Emily had the killer blow: ‘Inside months [of his release], you went to stick with him at his New York mansion. Why? Why have been you staying with a convicted intercourse offender?’

Andrew replied: ‘I went there with the only goal of claiming to him that as a result of he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen collectively . . . I felt that doing it over the phone was the hen’s approach of doing it.’

I used to be incredulous. Was he saying it was the precise factor to do to spend 4 days on the residence of a convicted intercourse offender? That it was by some means honourable?

Emily continued. ‘Do you remorse the entire friendship with Epstein?’

Andrew ought to have bitten her hand off for the prospect to say, fairly merely, sure. As an alternative, he mentioned: ‘Now, nonetheless not, and the reason is is that the individuals I met and the alternatives I used to be given to study both by him or due to him have been truly very helpful.’

I bear in mind having to look down simply so I might roll my eyes.

He had no recollection of assembly Virginia Roberts Guiffre. Or of getting his hand round her waist within the notorious {photograph} allegedly taken on the evening she claimed he had intercourse along with her. As a royal, he mentioned, he would not have been bodily near somebody like that.

Andrew told Maitlis he had no recollection of meeting Virginia Roberts Guiffre. Or of having his hand around her waist in the infamous photograph allegedly taken on the night she claimed he had sex with her. As a royal, he said, he wouldn't have been physically close to someone like that

Andrew instructed Maitlis he had no recollection of assembly Virginia Roberts Guiffre. Or of getting his hand round her waist within the notorious {photograph} allegedly taken on the evening she claimed he had intercourse along with her. As a royal, he mentioned, he would not have been bodily near somebody like that

Out got here his now infamous alibis — that he was at Pizza Categorical in Woking that day, that Virginia’s recollection of him sweating on the dance ground at Tramp nightclub could not be true as a result of he’d misplaced the flexibility to sweat.

As a former prison barrister, I knew the solutions have been a future defence lawyer’s nightmare. I realised, for the primary time, that Andrew could not have taken authorized recommendation earlier than chatting with us.

It simply obtained worse and worse.

He could not have had intercourse with Virginia, he mentioned, as a result of intercourse, for a person, is a ‘form of optimistic motion’ which could be very tough to neglect. Was this a royal euphemism for penetration?

Emily gave him one other likelihood: ‘I ponder when you’ve got any sense now of guilt, remorse or disgrace about any of your behaviour and your friendship with Epstein?’

She handed it to him on a plate. Absolutely he’d make clear that it had all been a horrible mistake?

I regarded up from the ground, watched him collect himself for one of many remaining solutions.

‘So far as Mr Epstein is worried, it was the improper resolution to go and see him in 2010. So far as my affiliation with him was involved, it had some critically helpful outcomes in areas that don’t have anything to do with what . . . we’re speaking about in the present day.’ Extraordinary that he could not see how horrible that sounded. Emily requested her remaining query.

Virginia Giuffre eventually settled out of Court with Prince Andrew for £12million

Virginia Giuffre finally settled out of Court docket with Prince Andrew for £12million

‘Is there something you’re feeling has been left unsaid that you simply want to say now?’

A message of remorse for the horrible acts his ‘good friend’ had dedicated, maybe? Andrew’s likelihood ebbed away.

‘No, I do not assume so. I feel you have most likely dragged out most of what’s required . . .’

That was it. An interview extra surprising than any of us might ever have predicted.

I could not have a look at anybody. I might barely imagine his individuals hadn’t stopped the interview. I’d have, regardless of the implications.

‘How did you assume it went?’ I requested the equerry.

She beamed. ‘Wasn’t he fantastic!’ she mentioned.

I would anticipated Amanda Thirsk to be distraught, the prince to look shaken or involved, however she was smiling and he appeared ebullient.

After which it hit me: he truly thought it had gone effectively.

He was in such a superb temper that he supplied us all a tour of the palace. I could not go. I would not have been in a position to converse to him in good religion. After all, Emily could not decline. I do not understand how she stored her composure.

After the interview was broadcast, everybody agreed it had been an unmitigated catastrophe for Prince Andrew. The newspapers additionally lambasted Amanda Thirsk, ridiculing her for ‘letting’ him do the interview.

I discovered this profoundly disturbing. What she had accomplished was imagine in her boss — his personal solutions had landed him in scorching water.

I additionally felt unusually protecting in direction of her. We have been each doing our jobs to one of the best of our talents. And now her skilled life lay in tatters.

On November 20, Prince Andrew introduced he was stepping again from public duties for the foreseeable future. Belatedly, he additionally expressed sympathy for Epstein’s victims.

Jeffrey Epstein with his arm around Ghislaine Maxwell, that was recovered along with many other photos during an FBI raid at Epstein's New York Upper East Side mansion in 2019

Jeffrey Epstein together with his arm round Ghislaine Maxwell, that was recovered together with many different images throughout an FBI raid at Epstein’s New York Higher East Aspect mansion in 2019

Amanda Thirsk stepped again from her position after which finally left.

I messaged her. Provided to fulfill if she was so inclined.

In the meantime, Ghislaine Maxwell was charged with eight counts referring to grooming under-age women for Epstein. Requires Andrew to ‘co-operate’ with the FBI grew louder.

After which, simply earlier than the twenty fifth anniversary of Martin Bashir’s Panorama interview with Princess Diana, Earl Spencer went public with allegations towards him and the BBC.

The interview, he mentioned, had been procured by Martin Bashir after he instructed a litany of lies to Diana and confirmed her solid financial institution statements. She’d by no means have agreed to do it in any other case.

The extra I discovered concerning the allegations, the extra appalled I used to be.

A graphic designer who’d blown the whistle on the financial institution statements had misplaced his job. It appeared clear there’d been some type of cover-up.

All I might really feel was betrayal and anger. For that, amongst different causes, I made a decision I wished to go away the BBC.

Earlier than I left, I lastly obtained to see Amanda Thirsk. She was nothing however gracious and wished me one of the best. We’re nonetheless in contact infrequently. 

Extracted from Scoops: Behind The Scenes Of The BBC’s Most Stunning Interviews by Sam McAlister, to be printed by Oneworld on July 14 at £16.99. © 2022 Sam McAlister. To order a replica for £15.29, go to or name 020 3176 2937. Supply legitimate till July 16, 2022. UK supply is free on orders over £20.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.