UK's Prince Andrew denies having sex with Epstein accuser

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LONDON - Britain's Prince Andrew has "categorically" denied having sex with an alleged teen victim of disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein, who claims she was forced to sleep with the royal, in an extraordinary interview broadcast on UK television.

In an unprecedented hour-long conversation with the BBC's Newsnight program, Andrew insisted he had "no recollection" of ever having met his accuser, Virginia Roberts.

The prince also conceded his continued association with Epstein after he was convicted of soliciting prostitution had let the royal family down -- but that he did not believe it had damaged the reputation of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

"I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened," Andrew told the BBC's Emily Maitlis in the interview broadcast on Saturday evening, on the allegations he had sex with Roberts, now Giuffre, on three occasions.

"I've said consistently and frequently that we never had any sort of sexual contact whatever.

"I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever," he added.

Andrew claimed he was "at home with the children" on the March 2001 night Giuffre alleges they had sex, after earlier taking his daughter Princess Beatrice to a pizza restaurant near London.

The interview dominated the front pages of Britain's newspapers on Sunday, with several titles across the political spectrum focusing on the prince's apparent lack of regret.

"Not one single word of remorse," said the Mail on Sunday -- a headline echoed by the Sunday Mirror, which said: "No sweat... and no regret".

The prince "seemed unconcerned by the seriousness of the matter, laughing and smiling at several points during the interview... and expressed no regrets or concern about Epstein's victims," commented The Guardian.

Andrew, 59 -- eighth in line to the throne -- has been heavily criticized over his links to multimillionaire Epstein, who was found dead in a New York jail in August.

A coroner ruled that he committed suicide by hanging, while awaiting trial on federal charges he trafficked girls as young as 14 for sex.

Epstein had pleaded guilty in 2008 to procuring a girl under the age of 18 for prostitution and served 13 months in a US prison before being released on probation.

Nonetheless Andrew, who hosted him at Windsor Castle and remained in contact immediately following his release, is adamant it has not tarnished Britain's head of state.

"I don't believe it's been damaging to the Queen at all, it has to me," he said, noting "the wider family couldn't have been more supportive".

"It has been, what I would describe as a constant sore in the family," the father-of-two added of the impact on his immediate family. -AFP


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