London: The Duke of York was plunged into a deepening crisis on Monday night as a succession of charities and companies threatened to sever ties with him.
As the fallout from the Duke’s “disastrous” BBC Newsnight interview about his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein showed no sign of abating, the Outward Bound Trust, the prominent youth organisation, convened an emergency board meeting to consider his patronage.
KPMG, one of the world’s biggest accountancy firms, confirmed it had pulled the plug on its sponsorship of Pitch@Palace, the Duke’s flagship charity initiative, with sources citing “adverse media publicity”.
AstraZeneca, another partner, said: “Our three-year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed.”
In a further blow to his reputation, the Duke was also accused last night of using the racist “n-word” during a business meeting with a Downing Street adviser seven years ago.
The Daily Telegraph has also learnt that more legal documents are due to be released in the US relating to the predatory sexual activities of Epstein which will name the Duke.
A judge will decide whether to unseal the new tranche of documents within weeks.
At a press conference last night in California, a new victim of Epstein, described as “Jane Doe 15”, said she had been invited to a party on the paedophile’s private island at which she learnt the Duke would be present.
She said: “I was contacted by one of Jeffrey Epstein’s assistants and invited to Epstein’s island where I was told Prince Andrew, among others, would be a guest. I declined the invitation out of fear. I had only experienced a glimpse of Epstein’s world, but it left me with residual trauma.”
The woman’s lawyer, Gloria Allred, said: “I’ve called on Prince Andrew to voluntarily speak with law enforcement in the US and he should do that as soon as possible. Every day, where someone who has relevant information does not come forward, might seem like a year or two to those who are victims. They deserve the truth.”
It emerged yesterday that even the Duchess of York, her ex-husband’s staunchest supporter, has accepted that the Newsnight interview was “a car crash”, according to friends.
The Outward Bound Trust, one of the Royal Family’s favourite charities, said it would be reviewing the Duke’s patronage this week at a meeting that had been hastily arranged in the wake of the interview.
At Huddersfield University, where the Duke is chancellor, the students’ union panel has voted on a motion to lobby him to resign.
The result will be published in the next few days.
The Duke is said to have told the Queen that his Newsnight appearance was a success, although he has apparently confided in friends that he “regrets” not expressing sympathy for Epstein’s victims.