In Depth

Who is Virginia Roberts Giuffre and what did she say about Prince Andrew in her BBC interview?

Alleged Jeffrey Epstein victim appeared on a BBC Panorama documentary about the scandal

The woman who claims she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17, has repeated her allegations against the royal, telling the BBC she was “abused by a member of the royal family.”

Remembering a “wicked” and “scary” time in her life, Virginia Roberts Giuffre told Panorama she was trafficked as a teenager to have sex with the prince.

Who is Virginia Roberts Giuffre?

Giuffre, who now lives in Australia with her husband and three children, has long claimed that she was used as a sex slave by Epstein when she was a teenager.

She says she was working as a spa attendant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida when she was recruited by Epstein’s longtime friend Ghislaine Maxwell to give massages to the wealthy investor. Giuffre says she was later instructed to have sex with Epstein and his friends. “At 17, she would have been under the age of consent in Florida,” notes The Daily Telegraph. Maxwell and Trump have previously denied any wrongdoing.

What did Giuffre say in the BBC interview?

In her Panorama interview Giuffre alleged she had sex with the prince when she was 17 on the instructions of Ghislaine Maxwell, a socialite and close friend of the US financier, Jeffrey Epstein. Giuffre said: “I implore the people in the UK to stand up beside me, to help me fight this fight, to not accept this as being OK.

“This is not some sordid sex story. This is a story of being trafficked. This is a story of abuse and this is a story of your guy’s royalty.”

She said the alleged encounter in London in 2001 began in the Tramp nightclub. Giuffre remembered that Andrew was “the most hideous dancer I’ve ever seen in my life” and that she was “grossed out” because “this guy was sweating all over me… his sweat was like it was raining basically”.

This directly contradicts Andrew’s claim, made during his interview with Newsnight last month, that a medical condition he had at the time meant he couldn't sweat, after suffering an overdose of adrenalin during the Falklands War.

Speaking about their sexual encounter later that evening, she said: “It was disgusting. He wasn’t mean or anything. But he got up and he said ‘thanks’ and walked out, and I sat there in bed just horrified and ashamed and felt dirty.

“I just didn’t expect it from royalty. I didn’t expect it from someone that people look up to and admire in the royal family… I couldn’t comprehend how the highest levels of the government, powerful people, were allowing this to happen, not only allowing it to happen but participating in it.”

Was any further evidence revealed?

Panorama has uncovered a 2015 email from Prince Andrew to Maxwell asking for help dealing with the allegations by Giuffre, who was then called Virginia Roberts. In the message, sent at 5.50am, he wrote: “Let me know when we can talk. Got some specific questions to ask you about Virginia Roberts,” to which Maxwell replied: “Have some info. Call me when you have a moment.”

Meanwhile, the lawyer for five women who accuse Epstein of abusing them say Andrew witnessed how people were given massages at the sex offender’s homes, contradicting his claim that he did not witness or suspect any suspicious behaviour during visits to the financier’s homes.

David Boies said he plans to serve subpoenas to force the Duke of York to testify as a witness in all five cases, adding: “One of the things that we have tried is to interview Prince Andrew and to try to get what his explanation is.”

What were Guiffre’s original claims about Prince Andrew?

Giuffre says she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew, who was once friends with Epstein, three times. Once was allegedly in 2001 in London, where she said she dined with him, danced with him and he bought her drinks in Tramp nightclub before she went on to have sex with him in a house in Belgravia belonging to Ghislaine Maxwell. 

She also says she had sex with the prince at Epstein’s New York home and during an “orgy” on his private Caribbean island.

When asked about Prince Andrew in August, she said: “He knows what he has done and he can attest to that. He knows exactly what he’s done, and I hope he comes clean about it.”

The Met has since said it dropped the case because the alleged offences mainly took place overseas, but the Independent Office for Police Conduct is said to be “making inquiries” into the decision.

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What has Prince Andrew said?

The royal has vehemently denied the claims and took part in a BBC interview, aired on 16 November, in an attempt to put the record straight.

He insisted he had “no recollection” of meeting Giuffre, but offered some unusual reasons why her accusations must be false. He did not deny having been in Tramp nightclub before, but said he did not know where the bar was inside and that on the date in question he was at Pizza Express in Woking. “I’ve only been to Woking a couple of times and I remember it weirdly distinctly,” he said, when questioned how he remembers exactly what he was doing on a specific day 18 years ago.

Andrew also insisted he had a “peculiar medical condition” at the time that prevented him from sweating after he had “an overdose of adrenaline” in the Falkland’s War when he was shot at.

When asked about a photograph of him with his arm around Giuffre’s waist, he suggested it might have been doctored. Guy Martin at Forbes notes that the FBI has the original photograph and so will presumably “be able to determine whether Andrew’s claim will bear up under advanced technological scrutiny”.

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