Ghislaine Maxwell claims photo of Prince Andrew with Virginia Giuffre is fake

A screengrab issued by Talk TV from their interview with disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell
A screengrab issued by Talk TV from their interview with disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell

Ghislaine Maxwell has claimed she has no memory of the Duke of York and his sex abuse accuser meeting at her home and said a photograph suggesting otherwise must be a fake.

Maxwell has given a television interview from a Florida jail, where she is serving 20 years for child sex trafficking after procuring girls for the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

The 61-year-old questioned the authenticity of the now infamous photograph showing Prince Andrew with his arm around the waist of 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre at Maxwell’s London home.

She told TalkTV, in an interview to be broadcast on Monday evening: “I have no memory of them meeting and I don’t think that picture is real.

“There is no original of that photo, [only] copies of it that have been produced, copies of copies. Parts of it, according to some experts, looks like it has been photoshopped.

“I don't remember her in my home. I know that Virginia travelled with Jeffrey, and so it’s entirely possible. But the photo doesn’t appear to be real, and I don’t recall it being taken.”

Ghislaine Maxwell said of the photo that ‘I don’t believe it’s real for a second’
Ghislaine Maxwell said of the photo that ‘I don’t believe it’s real for a second’

It came amid reports that the Duke is planning a legal bid to overturn the multi million-pound settlement he struck with Ms Giuffre last February after she accused him of raping and abusing her three times in 2001, when she was 17.

He is said to have consulted his lawyers after Ms Giuffre dropped her sexual abuse claim against Alan Dershowitz, a US lawyer, admitting after an eight-year legal battle that she “may have made a mistake” in claiming he had abused her as a teenager.

The Duke is understood to believe the “extraordinary” development prompted serious questions over her credibility.

Mr Dershowitz, who has always argued that the Duke could have won his case against Ms Giuffre and should never have settled, told The Telegraph: “In law, with creative lawyers, it’s  never too late. Nothing’s impossible.”

Asked about reports that he was offering unofficial legal advice to the Duke, he insisted they had never spoken.

Maxwell said the Duke, who she has described as a “dear friend”,  should be “uplifted” by the outcome of the Dershowitz case.

“Her story, frankly, has changed multiple times. It’s very hard to know really what’s true or not,” she said.

“I’ve read a lot of [Ms Giuffre’s] depositions, and her statements are very categorical and her stories are very detailed and elaborate, including claiming that she went to his [Mr Dershowitz’s] house. So I think her ‘memory lapses’ are disingenuous. If her memory is so poor, then how can you rely on anything she says?

“When you give a lot of details and make claims that last five, six or seven years, and then suddenly at the last moment decide that it was a memory lapse, I find that hard to credit.”

‘He wants route back to normality’

Maxwell admitted the Duke could have handled the Epstein scandal better, describing his disastrous BBC interview with Emily Maitlis as “unfortunate” and admitting: “I wish he hadn’t done it.”

She also acknowledged that the Duke’s decision to visit Epstein in New York in 2010, two years after the financier was convicted of child sex charges, displayed bad judgment “because it had very severe repercussions”.

Prince Andrew is said to be in discussions about how to force a retraction, or even an apology, from Ms Giuffre, which could pave the way for a return to royal duties.

The King will not oppose any further legal action his brother might take to clear his name, according to reports.

A source told the Mail on Sunday: “He wants to see what legal routes might be available to him. This isn’t about the money. He wants a route back to some sort of normality after a deeply trying period. I can tell you with confidence that Prince Andrew’s team is now considering legal options.”

Legal experts suggest the Duke would have to file a “motion to vacate the stipulation of settlement”, providing reasons to overturn the deal such as fraud, duress, mistake or accident.

The Duke has always vehemently protested his innocence and was determined to take the civil case to trial to clear his name. However, Buckingham Palace urged him to settle as the claims threatened to overshadow last year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.