Mark Stephens, a highly-rated lawyer said that the Prince Andrew BBC interview is a catastrophic error, and further stated that such strategies worked only if you have a full answer for every question raised. Prince Andrew’s rash decision to defend his relationship with the convicted criminal Jeffrey Epstein, by participating in a BBC interview, has been termed as a catastrophic error by top media experts and lawyers.
The Queen’s son chose to break his silence in a pre-recorded interview for Saturday evening’s Newsnight program, on his alleged close friendship with the disgraced financier and on being accused of a non-consensual intimate encounter with an underaged (17-year-old) teenager. But media commentators stated that the decision to take part in the interview could backfire. Mark Stephens, who also represented James Hewitt following his reported affair with Princess Diana, emphatically said that this strategy only worked if you had a complete and full answer to every possible question, and here there were too many loose ends.
Sometimes Silence is Golden
Experts opine that if Prince Andrew maintained a dignified silence, he may have remained outside of the case, as being a witness, he enjoys diplomatic immunity. The Prince was very much a private member of the royal family and now he had waived that privacy. A PR agent with a number of high-profile celebrity clients, Mark Borkowski, described the interview as extraordinary as Prince Andrew never liked the company of any journalist, and has always maintained a good arm’s length distance from the press. Doing something this public was a high-risk strategy and could draw more unwelcome attention to the issue without changing any mindset.
Generally when television cameras are pointed at the royals, it has ended very differently from how these were intended. Andrew had hired Jason Stein as his new press officer in September. But Stein chose to leave after a few weeks to join another PR firm, for reasons never publicly disclosed. Sources said the interview resulted after six months of protracted negotiations with the royal household, with an agreement that there would be no advance vetting of questions. Prince Andrew said he let the side down over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.
The Tweets Prevail
The interviewer, Emily Maitlis, recently told BBC Radio 4’s Today that the interview went into minute details about whatever allegations were published in the press. She expected to be told that the BBC would not be questioning a senior royal family member about his personal and intimate history. To be fair to the Duke of York, there was no comeback, nor any question that he did not address; nothing was off limits. In the interview, the Prince denied having any recollection of meeting Virginia Giuffre, who claimed being coerced into having intimate relations with him when she was 17. As interview snippets were released, Giuffre re-tweeted several unfavourable reactions she had come across, with most wondering why he even chose to give the interview in the first place. Others referred to the Prince as a ‘lying weasel’ who was just out to save himself in the middle of a horrific scandal.