Prince Andrew: BT refuses to work with firm where the duke is patron

BT has said it will not work with a skills training firm while the Duke of York remains its patron as the fallout from his BBC interview continues.

Several universities, businesses and charities are also reconsidering their connections to Prince Andrew and he has cancelled a public appearance.

It follows the duke telling Newsnight he did not regret his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Critics described the interview as a “car crash”.

In a statement, BT said it had been working with iDEA – which helps people develop digital, business and employment skills – since 2017 but “our dealings have been with its executive directors not its patron, the Duke of York”.

“In light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage,” a spokeswoman said.

Standard Chartered Bank and KPMG earlier announced they were withdrawing support for the duke’s business mentoring initiative Pitch@Palace, but sources told the BBC the decisions were made before the interview.

Four Australian universities have also said they would not be continuing their involvement in Pitch@Palace Australia.

Prince Andrew cancelled a planned visit to flood-hit areas of Yorkshire on Tuesday, three days after the interview aired, the Sun newspaper reported.

It is understood the visit was deemed inappropriate in the midst of an election campaign.

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Media captionPrince Andrew on Epstein: ‘There was no indication, absolutely no indication’

In his Newsnight interview, the duke answered questions for the first time about his friendship with US financier Jeffrey Epstein, who took his own life in August while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges in the US.

He “categorically” denied having any sexual contact with Virginia Giuffre – who was 17 and known as Virginia Roberts when she says the prince first had sex with her – but the interview provoked a backlash.

  • Pharmaceuticals company AstraZeneca and Hult International Business School, are reviewing their partnerships with Pitch@Palace
  • Outward Bound, the charity the Duke of Edinburgh was patron of for 65 years, has called a board meeting to discuss the prince’s patronage
  • London Metropolitan University, said it will consider the prince’s role as its patron, saying it “opposes all forms of discrimination, abuse and human trafficking”
  • University of Huddersfield students are calling for the prince to be sacked as their chancellor
  • Four Australian universities listed as partners of Pitch@Palace Australia – Bond University, Murdoch University, the University of Wollongong and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology – said they had either ended their relationship with the initiative or would not be continuing it

Despite the criticism, BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond reported that those close to the duke say a withdrawal from public life is not under consideration.

Prince Andrew said in the interview that he could not recall ever meeting Virginia Giuffre – despite a photograph of them together – and recalled that he went to Pizza Express in Woking and then returned home the night she claims they first met.

He sought to cast doubt on her testimony that he was “profusely sweating” in a nightclub, saying that a medical condition at the time meant he could not perspire.

And the duke said meeting Epstein for a final time in 2010 was “the wrong decision”, but said the “opportunities I was given to learn” about business meant he did not regret the friendship.

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