Duchess of York admits Duke arranged for convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein to pay off her debts
The Duchess of York has admitted that her former husband arranged for a convicted paedophile to pay off her debts.
Prince Andrew, the Duke of York (left) and his former wife Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York. Photo: AFP/REX
By Steven Swinford
1:53PM GMT 07 Mar 2011
In her only interview since the scandal she confirmed that the Duke of York handled the negotiations, as first revealed by The Daily Telegraph.
She said that his office arranged for Jeffrey Epstein to give £15,000 to her former personal assistant, Johnny O'Sullivan, and apologised for a "gigantic error of judgment".
She said: "I personally, on behalf of myself, deeply regret that Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me. I abhor paedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know that this was a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf.
"I am just so contrite I cannot say. Whenever I can I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again."
The revelation of the Duke's direct role in arranging the payment is likely to intensify pressure on him to step down from his role as trade ambassador.
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Mr O'Sullivan was owed £78,000 in unpaid wages and other bills. After hearing about the Duchess's financial plight Epstein stepped in and discussed the affair directly with the Duke's office and then Mr O'Sullivan.
He accepted £15,000 which then allowed a wider restructuring of Sarah's £5 million debts to take place.
The Duchess said: "The Duke sorted out my debts and he and his office have been more than marvellous.
"I cannot state more strongly that I know a terrible, terrible error of judgment was made, my having anything do with Jeffrey Epstein. What he did was wrong and for which he was rightly jailed.
"I had no idea of the string of other allegations and court cases against him and I am distraught that I should have allowed myself to get out of debt with any help from him when my judgment was clouded.
"Once again my errors have compounded and rebounded and also inadvertently impacted on the man I admire most in the world, the Duke.
"He has supported me and come to my rescue again and again and there is absolutely nothing that I would not do for him.
"This make it even more painful for me that what happened has been used by people to make his life more difficult."
This morning David Cameron's official spokesman said that the Prime Minster still has "full confidence" in the Duke as trade envoy, despite reports that his position is under review.
Later, the Duke visited the Canary Wharf offices of the Crossrail project, where he was confronted by dozens of waiting photographers and journalists.
He smiled as he stepped from his chauffeur-driven Bentley, which had a personalised number plate ending in D0Y - for Duke of York.
As he was greeted by Crossrail chairman Terry Morgan, the Duke did not respond as a member of the press shouted: "Are you an embarrassment to the Royal Family?"