Prince Andrew and aides ‘thought his Newsnight interview went wonderfully well’


The Duke of York was said to have looked ‘ebullient’ when the cameras stopped rolling (Picture: BBC)

Prince Andrew and his aides initially thought he had performed ‘wonderfully’ in his disastrous Newsnight interview, the woman who organised it has claimed. 

Sam McAlister, who spent 10 years producing interviews for the flagship BBC news programme, has revealed new excruciating details of the Duke of York’s encounter with presenter Emily Maitlis at Buckingham Palace back in 2019. 

She recalls a smiling Andrew appearing so pleased with his performance that he offered her, Ms Maitlis and the rest of their team a guided tour of the royal residence. 

The hour-long interview was seen as the royal’s attempt to draw a line under his controversial relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, and to deny publicly claims he had underage sex with Virginia Giuffre, one of the disgraced financier’s victims. 

But Ms McAlister says it is now used by people in crisis management ‘as a shining example of what answers not to give when you’re dealing with controversy’. 

Rather than renounce his friendship with Epstein as many had predicted, Andrew twice stated it had some ‘seriously beneficial outcomes’ and it gave him the opportunity to meet people and help prepare for a future role as a trade envoy. 

And while he denied sleeping with Mrs Giuffre on three separate occasions, he claimed one encounter in 2001 could not have happened as he had taken his daughter Princess Beatrice to Pizza Express in Woking for a party. 

The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was dismissed as factually wrong as the duke described how he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat. 


Duke of York ( Prince Andrew ) interviewed by Emily Maitlis for BBC Newsnight about his friendships with Jeffrey Epstein DM pic desk grab
His aide said he had looked ‘wonderful’ (Picture: BBC)

Ms McAlister gives a moment-by-moment reconstruction of the interview from her seat 15 feet away from where Andrew was sitting in her new book entitled Scoops: Behind The Scenes Of The BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews. 

In an extract published in the Daily Mail, she says of the duke’s replies to questioning: ‘Each time I thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did.’ 

She goes on: ‘I could barely believe his people hadn’t stopped the interview. I would have, despite the consequences. ‘“How did you think it went?” I asked the equerry. She beamed. “Wasn’t he wonderful!” she said. 

‘I’d expected [Andrew’s then private secretary] Amanda Thirsk to be distraught, the prince to look shaken or concerned, but she was smiling, and he seemed ebullient. 

‘And then it hit me: he actually thought it had gone well. He was in such a good mood that he offered us all a tour of the palace.’ 

Andrew stepped down from public duties shortly after the interview and earlier this year paid millions out of court to settle a civil sexual assault case brought by Ms Giuffre.

He has consistently and vehemently denied all allegations against him.

Scoops: Behind The Scenes Of The BBC’s Most Shocking Interviews by Sam McAlister will be published by Oneworld on July 14. 

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.

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