Just when Prince Andrew hoped the dust was settling regarding his connections with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell hails him as a ‘dear friend’.
Her emotional jail cell tribute contradicts Andrew’s denial to a US court that they had been close risking scuppering any hopes he had of returning to public life..
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Maxwell, who was convicted of grooming and recruting teenage girls for Epstein to abuse, failed to deny suggestions that she and Andrew had been a couple, and declared: ‘I care about him.’
The Mail On Sunday reports: Her remarks come as the MoS reveals a new photograph today of the disgraced former socialite taken at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in New York this year before she was moved to a prison in Florida to serve her 20-year sentence.
In a string of further revelations, she:
- Claimed a photo taken of the Prince and accuser Virginia Roberts ‘is not real’ and that there are ‘over 50 problems’ with it’;
- Told how a fellow inmate had plotted to murder her while she was sleeping;
- Described her ‘special friendship’ with President Bill Clinton, whom she claimed was ‘another victim’ of association with Epstein;
- Spoke of her gratitude to Donald Trump for wishing her well after her arrest, saying his comments gave her a ‘big boost’;
- Complained she has been portrayed as a ‘wicked witch’ Disney character and accused the media of ‘monstrous inaccuracies’;
- Disclosed that she is crammed into a tiny cell with three other inmates and told of the ‘indignity’ of being put on suicide watch.
Prince Andrew, 62, was stripped of his military titles and royal patronages in January as he fought allegations that he abused Ms Roberts, one of Epstein’s victims, as a teenager in London, Manhattan, and the US Virgin Islands.
He has repeatedly and vehemently denied the claims. He settled out of court with Ms Roberts, who now uses her married name Giuffre, for an undisclosed sum but made no admission of guilt.
A legal document submitted to a US court in January by the Duke’s lawyers contained 41 separate denials of allegations made by Ms Roberts, including her claim that ‘Prince Andrew was a close friend of Ghislaine Maxwell’.
But in her MoS interview, Maxwell spoke in glowing terms of her friendship with the Duke. ‘I feel so bad for him,’ said the disgraced former socialite, who has known Andrew since she was a student at Oxford University in the 1980s.
‘Yes, I follow what is happening to him. He is paying such a price for the association [with Jeffrey Epstein]. I consider him a dear friend… I care about him.’
Quizzed on the denial by Andrew’s lawyers that they were close friends, Maxwell said: ‘I accept that this friendship could not survive my conviction.’
She dismissed a photograph, first revealed by this newspaper, of the Prince with his arm around Ms Roberts at Maxwell’s home in Belgravia, Central London, in March 2001, saying: ‘I don’t recognise that picture and I don’t believe it is a real picture. There’s so many things wrong with it. There is no original and there isn’t a true picture and there are that many other things besides that I cannot hardly get into… I don’t know how many points there are, but there are over 50 problems with the picture.’
Earlier this year, Euan Rellie, a former friend of Maxwell’s, told ITV he believed she and Andrew ‘had probably been girlfriend and boyfriend in the past’.
Asked about press reports that they were ‘like a couple, an item’, Maxwell said she would not address such speculation until after the appeal against her conviction. ‘I have read and seen and heard and had reported to me so many monstrous inaccuracies that I can’t start to pick apart all of them. If I pick apart one and then don’t address all the others, it’s going to say, ‘Well, she said no to this, what about all those others?’ I’m not going to discuss anything of that nature until after the appeal.’