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Epstein: The problem that isn't going away for Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew (L) was friends with financier Jeffrey Epstein. Credit: News Syndication

When Virginia Roberts stood outside court on Tuesday and answered a question about Prince Andrew, nothing much changed from a legal perspective.

She made no new allegations. She did not accuse the Duke of York of any wrong doing.

Prince Andrew was not mentioned in court when Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims spoke.

But by saying in to the TV crews waiting outside that the Duke must "come clean" about what he knows about Jeffrey Epstein, Ms Roberts gave the story a new injection of oxygen.

It meant that it was reported – once again – on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

Prince Andrew says he does not remember ever meeting Virginia Roberts. Credit: AP

That is – and will remain – the problem for Buckingham Palace.

It’s the story which is refusing to go away.

Following Jeffrey Epstein’s suicide in prison, there will be no court case, so the allegations made against him won’t now be tested and scrutinised in the witness box.

And that’s why this story has the potential to run and run.

Palace sources I have spoken to privately admit they now fear the Epstein saga will become a "running sore".

So they will have to choose when and how to respond to any new developments.

When Prince Andrew felt the need to issue a personal statement – as he did on Saturday – it also pushed the story back onto the TV bulletins and back onto the newspaper front pages.

The Prince stated that he never witnessed nor suspected "any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to [Epstein’s] arrest".

He wanted to emphasise that he sympathised with "everyone who’s been affected".

He also maintains he does not remember ever meeting Virginia Roberts.

But the Prince has been damaged by his admission that he made a "mistake and an error" when he went to New York to see his then friend in 2010 after Epstein had been convicted of child pornography involving a minor.

That error of judgement will be a problem for the Prince as this story moves on, but it does not implicate him in any way in the allegations which led to Epstein’s arrest earlier this year.

So what happens next?

Jeffrey Epstein was a convicted paedophile. Credit: AP

Ms Roberts and her legal team say they’d like to speak with Prince Andrew, but it’s highly unlikely that will happen if there is not dramatic change in circumstances.

Roberts does not have absolute privilege outside court and her lawyer did clarify her remarks yesterday by saying they simply had some questions for the Prince.

Will she, and the others who claim they were trafficked by Epstein, pursue different legal avenues to seek justice for the wrongs they claim have been committed?

Will they speak to the media in the US any more?

Will the Metropolitan Police look again at any claims of criminal behaviour in this country?

Previously they reviewed the evidence relating to an allegation of "non-recent trafficking for sexual exploitation" but closed the case when it was decided that it would not progress to a full investigation.

Buckingham Palace will not respond to each and every development in this case, but when there is a development, however small, it’s going to make news.

And that is the reality for Prince Andrew for the foreseeable future.