UK

Prince Andrew publicly denies sexual misconduct claims

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Media captionPrince Andrew: "I would like to reiterate and reaffirm the statements that have been issued on my behalf by the palace"

The Duke of York has denied claims by a US woman that she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17 and says he wants to focus on his work.

In his first public appearance since the claims were made, Prince Andrew said he wanted to "reiterate" the denials issued by Buckingham Palace.

He was speaking at a World Economic Forum reception in Davos, Switzerland.

Virginia Roberts's lawyers have repeated the claims in new documents given to a court in Florida.

Ms Roberts, who is referred to in the case as Jane Doe #3, alleges she was forced by financier Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17.

Buckingham Palace has previously said the claims against Prince Andrew are "categorically untrue" and lack "any foundation".

'Desperate to move on'

Prince Andrew said: "Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to events that have taken place in the last few weeks.

"I just wish to reiterate and to reaffirm the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.

"My focus is on my work and this evening's reception allows me to tell you about just a couple of the initiatives that I have founded and am passionate about."

BBC royal correspondent Peter Hunt said: "We have had two unprecedented statements from Buckingham Palace and now this, Prince Andrew on camera.

"It's a sign of how damaging these allegations are and the price he is paying for his past friendship with a convicted sex offender.

"Prince Andrew is desperate to move on - it may not be that easy."

Image copyright Virginia Roberts
Image caption Prince Andrew is seen here with Virginia Roberts when she was 17

The new documents, filed in Florida, mark the first time Ms Roberts has given a statement about the allegations in her own words.

Her lawyers said they had sent Prince Andrew a letter asking him to respond under oath to the allegations.

They say the letter was sent back to them as having been refused by the recipient.

The allegations against Prince Andrew emerged in evidence submitted to a US court in a case involving Epstein, who spent time in jail in 2008-9 for a sex offence with a minor.

Prince Andrew, 54 and fifth in line to the throne, stepped down as UK trade envoy in July 2011 following controversy over his then friendship with Epstein.

The prince is not facing any legal proceedings over the claims made in the US case.

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