Prince Andrew is speaking out about the sex abuse claims surrounding his former friend Jeffrey Epstein.
“The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement released to PEOPLE.
“His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent,” the statement concluded.
The palace issued the statement on Andrew’s behalf after new video footage emerged that appeared to show the prince at the Manhattan home of Epstein in 2010. The video, first published by the Mail on Sunday and Mail Online, came as Andrew was enjoying a summer vacation in Spain with ex-wife Sarah Ferguson.
Epstein, 66, died in jail two weeks ago. He died by suicide, it was confirmed last Friday. The financier was discovered in cardiac arrest nearly a month after he was arrested for allegedly sex-trafficking girls as young as 14 and died in the hospital, CNN reported at the time.
Andrew, 59, recently joined his mother Queen Elizabeth on vacation at Balmoral Castle, Scotland. He attended church with her on August 11 just as new legal documents from a 2015 defamation case, in which a woman claimed during her deposition she was groped by Andrew while he was staying at one of Epstein’s properties in 2001, were unearthed. A palace spokesperson responded, saying, “This relates to proceedings in the United States, to which The Duke of York is not a party. Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”
The defamation case was brought by Virginia Giuffre, an alleged victim of Epstein, against socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who was claimed to have introduced the prince to her friend Epstein, the BBC reported.
Buckingham Palace continues to issue strong denials that Giuffre (then Roberts) was forced to have sex with Andrew, at age 17. “It is emphatically denied that The Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts,” the statement said. “Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
He first issued a denial in 2015, and a Florida judge ruled Giuffre’s claims “lurid” and “unnecessary” in April 2015.