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Prince Andrew steps down from chancellor and patron roles in wake of Epstein interview

Prince Andrew was the chancellor of the University of Huddersfield. Credit: PA

Prince Andrew has stepped down as chancellor of the University of Huddersfield and as patron of the Outward Bound Trust in the wake of his interview over his association with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

It comes a day after the Duke of York announced he was stepping down from official royal duties.

On Monday, students at the university passed a motion to lobby the Duke to resign as chancellor and the hashtag #notmychancellor was used on social media.

Following the vote the university said it was reviewing Andrew's position, but on Thursday he stood down.

In a statement, the university thanked Andrew "for his work during his period as chancellor" and said he was going "immediately".

It added: "The Duke of York has announced he is stepping back from Royal duties for a period of time.

"Due to the circumstances and in discussion with the University, he has decided to step down immediately to allow the University to appoint a successor.

"The Duke has informed the university that ‘he continues to unequivocally condemn Jeffrey Epstein’s activities and regrets his ill-judged association with him.

"His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and he deeply sympathises with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure’.

"The University would also like to express our deep sympathy to all of those victims and families that have been affected and we do hope that they are getting the support they need."

The university added it would begin appointing a new chancellor in the coming weeks.

The announcement was followed by a statement from the Outward Bound Trust confirming its board had accepted the resignation from the Duke as patron.

It said: "The Board of The Outward Bound Trust has today accepted the resignation as Patron of HRH The Duke of York following his announcement yesterday that he will be withdrawing from public duties for the foreseeable future.

"The Board of The Outward Bound Trust thanks HRH The Duke of York for his support over many years."

Royal Editor Chris Ship explains the patronage was handed to Prince Andrew by his father the Duke of Edinburgh earlier this year after holding the position himself since 1953.

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Also on Thursday, the Duke was been spotted in public for the first time since his decision to step down from official royal duties as he was pictured leaving his home, Royal Lodge in Berkshire.

Pressure has been building on Prince Andrew. Credit: PA

Pressure had been mounting on the Duke in the wake of his interview about his relationship with Epstein.

The royal said in a statement issued on Wednesday he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.

But Lisa Bloom, as lawyer representing some of Epstein’s victims, demanded further action by the Duke.

“Prince Andrew was simply not credible in his interview,” Ms Bloom tweeted.

“He and his staff must cooperate with all investigations, show up for civil depositions and trials, and produce all documents.

"We are just getting started.”

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Asked how Andrew could become involved in a legal process on BBC Breakfast, Lisa Bloom explained that "as an attorney, I have the right to subpoena witnesses to come and take depositions, those are out-of-court statements where they swear to tell the truth, they come into my office and they have to answer my questions, if I as an attorney deem the individual to have relevant information.

"It's not going to be easy to subpoena someone like Prince Andrew, he's obviously not walking down the street where a process server can just hand him a piece of paper, it's a lot more complicated.

"If he refused to come we may have a diplomatic situation between (the UK) and (the US).

"I hope it doesn't come to that.

"I take him at his word that he says he is going to co-operate and I hope that's what's going to happen."

A growing number of organisations have distanced themselves from Prince Andrew's initiatives. Credit: PA

Asked if the Duke of York was right to step back from public life, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told reporters on a visit to Bedfordshire: "All I can say is that it is very important that all the victims of Jeffrey Epstein get justice and the law must be done and must be seen to be done."

Ms Bloom’s mother and fellow lawyer Gloria Allred, who also represents victims of the US financier, said Andrew’s statement was not clear.

Ms Allred asked on the BBC’s Newsnight program: “Is he insisting that he be served with a subpoena to testify, or is he willing to speak to law enforcement without being legally required to do so?

“My clients who are victims of Jeffrey Epstein have spoken to law enforcement without being ‘required’ to do so.”

She flagged two possible next steps.

Gloria Allred represents some of Epstein's alleged victims. Credit: AP

“One is the criminal justice investigation to see if charges should be filed in reference to anyone who might have knowingly conspired with Mr Esptein to recruit and to sex traffic underage girls to him.”

The other option was the pursuit of civil lawsuits, like that which she filed on behalf of a woman known as Jane Doe 15, who alleged assault by Epstein when she was aged 15.

Firms including telecoms giant BT and bank Barclays were among a growing number of multi-million-pound businesses, universities and charities which distanced themselves from Andrew amid the fall-out from the Newsnight interview.

Is is understood there are ongoing discussions within the royal family about the current situation, with Andrew talking to the Queen and the Prince of Wales.

The Duke met with the Queen on Wednesday, visiting her at Buckingham Palace before his decision to step back from public life was announced.

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Andrew was criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier, who took his own life while in prison earlier this year.

In the Newsnight interview, the Duke denied claims he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage.

Prince Andrew denies claims he slept with Virginia Giuffre. Credit: BBC Newsnight

He said the alleged encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter, Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.

Ms Giuffre said the same alleged sexual liaison began with the Duke sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp.

During the controversial BBC interview Credit: Mark Harrison/BBC/PA

But the Duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.

He said he had no recollection of meeting Ms Giuffre.

When asked by the BBC’s Emily Maitlis if he regretted the “whole friendship with Epstein”, the duke replied: “Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.”

The Duke cancelled a visit to flood-ravaged communities in South Yorkshire on Tuesday.

The Queen with the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York on the Buckingham Palace balcony Credit: Victoria Jones/PA

He faced a barrage of firms and other organisations terminating or reviewing their association with his Pitch@Palace tech entrepreneurs initiative.

The Duke of York is to continue working on the flagship project but will do so privately without the support of Buckingham Palace.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said: "He will continue to work on Pitch but will look at how to do that outside and entirely separate from the palace."

It is thought the Duke will not have any involvement with the dozens of charities, organisations and military units he is associated with.

BT has warned it would only continue to back the digital skills award programme, iDEA, if Andrew was dropped as patron.

London Metropolitan University is also was considering the Duke’s role as its patron.