Eamonn McCann: Why Prince Andrew won’t face chants of ‘Out! Out! Out!’ at Davos

‘Former footballer Ched Evans won’t be the only person to watch the news today and wonder at a world so ill-divided’

‘Prince Andrew is scheduled to tell a meeting at the annual World Economic Forum, of his ideas –  “my mission” –  for encouraging young entrepreneurs to go forth and multiply their money. It’s been suggested that Buckingham Palace would rather he maintained a lower profile at the moment.’  Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

‘Prince Andrew is scheduled to tell a meeting at the annual World Economic Forum, of his ideas – “my mission” – for encouraging young entrepreneurs to go forth and multiply their money. It’s been suggested that Buckingham Palace would rather he maintained a lower profile at the moment.’ Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Former footballer Ched Evans won’t be the only one to watch the news today and wonder at a world so ill-divided. Prince Andrew is likely to feature in the bulletins. It seems he is minded to honour his speaking commitment at the Swiss ski resort, Davos.

The prince is scheduled to tell a meeting at the annual World Economic Forum, of his ideas – “my mission” – for encouraging young entrepreneurs to go forth and multiply their money. It’s been suggested that Buckingham Palace would rather he maintained a lower profile at the moment. Then again, the counter-argument runs, he’ll have to show his face again at some point; it might as well be in Davos, where he will be among his own.

The forum brings together some 2,500 political leaders, bankers, industrialists, chief executives, academics, economists etc. One reason other royals fret about Andrew showing up is that the publication of court papers in Florida on January 2nd has propelled his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein back on to US front pages.

Procuring underage girl Epstein, a fabulously wealthy financier

, served 13 months in jail in 2008/2009 after pleading guilty to procuring an unnamed underage girl to have sex with an associate for money. The charge was a sample of claims from 40 women who had told police they had been recruited by Epstein while underage to provide sexual services for himself or his friends. The first to have spoken out, in 2005, Virginia Roberts, says Epstein paid her to have sex with Andrew. The prince has consistently, vehemently denied the claim.

The case is back in public view because a number of the women have now won access to the documents relating to Epstein’s plea bargain. They want the deal discounted and investigations reopened into their complaints.

Ms Roberts, now 30, married with three children, has responded to the denials of Andrew and others in forthright style: “I am looking forward to vindicating my rights as an innocent victim and pursuing all available recourse. I am not going to be bullied back into silence.”

Some former associates shunned Epstein after his release. Others, including Andrew, stood by him.

On December 2nd, 2010, Epstein hosted a dinner party for Andrew at his 40-room mansion on the Upper East Side in New York. Other guests included TV news anchor Katie Couric, former White House spokesman turned TV presenter George Stephanopoulos and film director Woody Allen. A picture taken around the same time showed Epstein and Andrew strolling together through Central Park.

A photograph surfaced from a decade earlier of Andrew with his arm around the teenage Ms Roberts, apparently taken at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, daughter of the late media tycoon and criminal Robert Maxwell and one of Epstein’s closest friends.

Asked why so few in the US had batted an eyelid, David Patrick Columbia, founder of New York Social Diary, explained: “The only thing that gets you shunned in New York society is poverty.”

Some “society” figures have not only sustained solidarity with Epstein but have publicly challenged the integrity of his accusers. “Greedy, immoral little seductresses egged on by unscrupulous lawyers . . . I’ve never condoned paying for sex, but if the young lady lied about her age it’s her own fault,” one “socialite” told politicaliars.com.

“Top publicist” Peggy Siegal described Epstein as “brilliant . . . His unique mind is what attracts the world’s smartest people to his home.”

Empirical evidence Theoretical physicist and best-selling author of

Quantum Man Lawrence Krauss visited Epstein in jail and remains a good friend. “As a scientist I always judge things on empirical evidence and he always has women ages 19 to 23 around him, but I’ve never seen anything else.”

Epstein has supported Krauss’s work through his Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation. He continues to chair the foundation’s monthly meetings, providing scholarships and making donations to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MIT, Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, Harvard, etc. Asked by the New York Daily News whether it intended to continue the relationship, Harvard replied: “Out of respect for our donors’ privacy, the university does not share that information.”

Epstein has acknowledged that he might accurately be described as an offender, while insisting that the offence was akin to “stealing a bagel”. He remains persona very much grata with very many of the political, business and cultural elite of the US.

Ched Evans might muse that he has served his time, too, and that there are no outstanding allegations against him (he was convicted of a rape that he continues to deny). But anyone who hints he might be allowed to play football again is howled down.

It’s a fair bet Andrew won’t face chants at Davos of “Out! Out! Out!” for his support of Epstein. It’s a question of class.

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