Britain’s Prince Andrew has spoken out publicly for the first time to deny allegations he had sex with an under-age teenager.
Looking resolute and calm as he addressed leading politics and business figures at the World Economic Forum in the Swiss resort of Davos, he said he wanted to “reiterate and reaffirm” Buckingham Palace statements dismissing accusations, made in US court documents, that he had sex with a woman on three separate occasions when she was a minor.
Lawyers for Virginia Roberts, a mother of three now in her 30s, have filed a letter in a Florida court addressed to the duke at Buckingham Palace, asking him to take part in a two-hour interview.
Andrew said: “Firstly I think I must, [and] want, for the record to refer to the events that have taken place in the last few weeks and I just wish to reiterate and to reaffirm the statements which have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.”
Andrew has faced mounting pressure to speak personally about the allegations, which have dogged him for weeks.
He started his speech by denying the claims, but made no further mention of them as he went on to talk about his work promoting entrepreneurs.
After his opening statement, he told the packed reception at the Belvedere hotel in the Swiss resort: “My focus is on my work and this evening’s reception allows me to tell you about just a couple of the initiatives that I have founded and am passionate about.”
Roberts alleges that she was “procured” for the duke by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire American financier who she accuses of using her as a teenage “sex slave”. Andrew stepped down as the UK’s trade envoy in July 2011 following controversy over his friendship with Epstein.
Palace officials have twice issued statements denying the duke had sexual contact with Roberts. As he left thehotel, a member of the press asked Andrew: ‘‘Will you be making a statement under oath?’’ He refused to answer, walking past the journalists .
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