this is bbc news. i'm shaun ley. the headlines at 12pm... prince andrew speaks publicly for the first time, about his friendship with the convicted sex offender, jeffrey epstein. in an exclusive interview with bbc newsnight, the duke says it was wrong to stay at epstein‘s house, and admits he let "the side down". i admit fully that myjudgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that is just the way it is. prince andrew also said he had "no recollection" of meeting virginia roberts, who claims she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17 after being groomed by epstein.
the prince denies any inappropriate conduct. in other news, scotland yard says it will look into claims of electoral fraud, after the brexit party said its candidates had been offered inducements by conservatives to stand down. two people have been hurt in a large fire at a student accommodation building in bolton. more than 200 firefighters were brought in to tackle the blaze and in half an hour — the bbc‘s technology programme click looks at the perils of the gig economy. hello, very good afternoon, and if you've just joined hello, very good afternoon, and if you'vejustjoined us, welcome to bbc news. in an unprecedented interview,
prince andrew has told the bbc that he let the royal family down by staying at the home of the convicted sex offender, jeffrey epstein. speaking to newsnight‘s emily maitlis at buckingham palace, the duke addressed accusations that he'd had sex with a 17—year—old american girl. he said he couldn't remember meeting virginia roberts as she was then called, and denies allegations of inappropriate conduct. our royal correspondent, nicholas witchell reports. he is continuing with royal duties. last sunday, he was at the cenotaph, laying a wreath with his nephews. and yet, for month after month, he's been the focus of troubling questions. prince andrew, the queen's second son, one moment seen waving from the doorway of the new york home of a convicted child sex offender, jeffrey epstein, and photographed strolling through central park with him. buckingham palace has consistently denied any impropriety by prince andrew. now, he's decided to speak for himself to bbc newsnight‘s emily maitlis. but you were staying at the house
of a convicted sex offender. it was a convenient place to stay. i mean, i've gone through this in my mind so many times. at the end of the day, with the benefit of all the hindsight that one could have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do but at the time i felt it was the honourable and right thing to do. and i admit fully that myjudgment was probably coloured by my tendency to be too honourable but that'sjust the way it is. and then there's andrew's alleged friendship with the then 17—year—old virginia roberts who was on epstein‘s payroll. she's alleged that andrew seduced her. one of epstein‘s accusers, virginia roberts, has made allegations against you. she says she met you in 2001. she says she dined with you,
danced with you at tramp nightclub in london. she went on to have sex with you in a house in belgravia belonging to ghislaine maxwell, your friend. your response? i have no recollection of ever meeting this lady. none whatsoever. you don't remember meeting her? no. it was in 2001, according to virginia roberts, that she had sex with andrew on three occasions, including one orgy. the palace has denied that. in 2008, epstein was convicted of procuring for prostitution a girl under the age of 18. he was sentenced to 18 months in prison. it was in 2010, after epstein had been released from prison, that andrew visited him in new york and stayed at his mansion. how does he explain that? the problem was the fact that once he had been convicted... you stayed with him. i stayed with him. and that's the bit that —
that, as it were, i kick myself for on a daily basis, because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family, and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices, and i let the side down. simple as that. but nothing about this story is simple. jeffrey epstein can't answer questions — he took his own life in august. as for andrew, the us authorities will undoubtedly very much like to hear his account of everything he witnessed. nicholas witchell, bbc news. since that interview, virginia roberts' legal team has responded, saying that they want prince andrew to speak under oath, rather than giving statements to the media. joining me now is our royal correspondent nicholas witchell. just picking up on that point first, until now the public expressions in behalf of prince andrew a statement
saying there was no truth in the allegations and their disgraceful allegations and their disgraceful allegations and their disgraceful allegations and that is it. presumably this does rather change a situation. i think the hope that andrew clearly will have is that once we've heard the interview the best pa rt once we've heard the interview the best part of an hour tonight talking to emily make less, the public will ta ke to emily make less, the public will take a more positive response to the clips we have seen so far which are not terribly helpful to him. he has not terribly helpful to him. he has no recollection of this lady according to him. he talks about it being the honourable thing to do to being the honourable thing to do to be loyal to a convicted child six offender —— convicted child sex offender. he accepts it was an error offender. he accepts it was an error ofjudgment to go and stay in the house ofjeffrey ofjudgment to go and stay in the house of jeffrey epstein, ofjudgment to go and stay in the house ofjeffrey epstein, supposedly he went there to break off the
friendship. well, you don't need to go and stay on the man's house for several nights to say that you can no longer see him. these sorts of things raise more questions than they address and settle. we must now wait and listen to the entire interview. it is quite curious to how it is he felt he should do this andi how it is he felt he should do this and i think it is very much andrew's to sit down. he is not the most humble of people normally. he is generally by reputation rather arrogant and i suspect that he felt he could talk his way through this and his wish would be to draw a line under it and move on. it is his 60th birthday coming up. the marriage of one of his daughters is next year. he wants to put this behind him. whether that is going to be the case, it is a little bit naive to believe that but we shall wait and see. we've already seen this has put
the story back in the front pages and the headlines, internationally as well it has been widely reported on. on that sense it is a high—risk strategy. whether there are substance to the allegations he has absolutely denied all of them, he has given fresh fuel to the fire. he has. it is a hugely high risk strategy. a gigantic gamble. people have said it took courage for him to subject himself. he won't have found it easy, that is for sure. there are many uncomfortable areas but i think emily make two emily has been saying that it was no holds barred. let's see what he says. i do get the impression that not everyone in buckingham palace would have felt it was a sensible idea for him to do this interview but as i said moments ago i think it is very much his
determination and decision to do it and the consequences. as you say, we will see to see the whole interview. let's talk to the media lawyer mark stephens who joins me via webcam. good afternoon. what do you make to the decision to take part in this interview and the timing of it? well, i think any reputation management professional whether a lawyer or pr is going to say that this was a catastrophic error of judgment. only if you are absolutely certain that prince andrew could draw a line under every question and there complete were and full some answers to all of the questions would you say that this was a wise move. the questions that have already been left begging about why he went afterjeffrey epstein was convicted to stay with him for
several nights doesn't really answer. people will have real concerns about that. the answer to the question about not knowing or not remembering, of course, members of the royal family do see a lot of peoples but there are calendars about that and this is going to open up about that and this is going to open up more questions and answers. —— there are challenges about that. it gives a body of information to people in america and at the moment he isjust a bit part player in all of that, very important in terms of celebrity status but he isjust a bit part player in the case that is going on in america. this brings him far more centrally to it. from a reputational perspective, i'm not sure this was very clever at all. the caveat obviously is as i was
saying to nick a few moments ago, none of us have seen the whole interview and may be seeing the whole interview and putting those clips into the context of the whole interview, one draws a different impression. for now though you've mentioned the legal cases that are ongoing in the united states. i have already said the duke has denied all the allegations and says he had no inappropriate behaviour but one of the lawyers said this morning that if he can give an interview to the bbc he can give depositions of the courts. what this is legal status because there is no charges against him. he is potentially a witness. is there any way in which those who are supporting the junior roberts' case can advance that? two virginia roberts. he is a witness. the americans can try and subpoena him but he has such status that he has
diplomatic community so it doesn't have two subject himself to cross examination. most people believe that he would effectively keep his own counsel, keep silent and risk on the diplomatic community. we can't infer and shouldn't infer any inappropriate behaviour. he denies any inappropriate behaviour and that is where it stands. nicholas witchell wise counsel and your own, in waiting to see how this plays out when we see the interview is of course right. the real challenge here is not really tonight. everybody will be watching with bated breath this interview by emily . but this gives a data point to
journalists in america and around the world. this is going to bejust the world. this is going to bejust the start. what is effectively prince andrew has done is lit the blue touch paper and really things are going to spiral out of control. that is a concern for the royal family here. they are always very good at controlling situations, not entering into the fray, and that is the wisdom of many many years. it is coming out today that courtiers at the palace are saying that they don't think this was particularly wise and nicholas witchell alluded to that in his package as well and his comments. i think it is something that is reallyjust the start of the story and not the end. thank you very much. now, in other news...
police say they're assessing two allegations of electoral fraud, after claims that the conservatives offered peerages and government jobs to brexit party candidates to stand aside in the upcoming general election. the tories deny the allegations. earlier i spoke to our political correspondentjohn owen about this. as you know, the brexit party has agreed to stand down in areas of the country that already have conservative mps in order to avoid splitting the pro—brexit vote in these areas. but that has led to pressure for the conservative party to stand down elsewhere as well. in a video posted earlier this week on twitter, nigel farage said that he and eight other brexit party figures had been offered jobs for the next stage of the brexit negotiations and there had been hints of peerages as well in exchange for standing down in other seats. and widdecombe, former conservative minister and now a brexit party candidate, she says she would swear on a bible that she had been offered a role in the next stage
of brexit negotiations. in response, the prime minister has said this is all nonsense and speaking on the bbc this morning michael gove says he has no knowledge of any such offer being made. i'm completely unaware of any of these conversations of the kind that you mention. the conservative party is not interested in pacts, or deals, or arrangements of this kind. we are standing in every seat across the united kingdom because we want people to have a chance to vote for conservatives, so we can have a working conservative majority to get parliament working again. a vote for any other party risks letting jeremy corbyn into downing street with the paralysis and division that would follow. in a statement, the metropolitan police say they have received two cases of electoral fraud and malpractice and they are both currently being assessed. labour's manifesto is set to be finalised today, in what is known as the "clause v meeting". the party's executive committee is meeting to discuss what policies it will put to voters in the general election.
our political correspondent iain watson has more. presumably they have all gone in now and they are preparing for a long afternoon or is this a case of dotting the eyes and crossing the teas? i think there will be some argument but we are not expecting this to run on into the evening. many of them are seeing the ma nifesto for many of them are seeing the manifesto for the first time. they will discuss sections of the ma nifesto. will discuss sections of the manifesto. they have to hand back a number of documents at the end of the day. if there is a unifying theme it is this, labour now sees a more active role for the states, more active role for the states, more active role for the states, more active role for government, nationalisations will be in the ma nifesto. nationalisations will be in the manifesto. they say it is
championing consumer rights. on the way in, jeremy corbyn said that whatever emerges from the session it will be conservative. ..clause v meeting today on the contents of our manifesto. it is going to be a document that will be transformative to the lives of people all over this country. i am looking forward to a really good day of discussions. are you expecting some tough discussions? and in terms of some of those arguments we have heard a lot about freedom of movement yet again the consequences of brexit rearing their head. are there concerns, do you detect, that by making so many promises with big price tags that they are risking their reputation for credibility? i think two things on that front. first of all they feel they have more leeway when it comes to financial credibility simply because of the last election the conservative warned about the
magic money tree and then suddenly found £1 billion to give to northern ireland's dup when they need it. so they think the public now a much more willing to accept more spending especially if that means the end of austerity. but i'm told there will be concerns raised up to date ‘s meeting about how all this adds up. a whole range of different policies that might be fine in themselves but what will they look like. one member of the meeting told me before he went in that he represents a very working class constituency in the north of england and get attacked by the conservatives about how much there policies would cost and it is becoming to cut through, even people who would be direct beneficiaries asking him on the doorstep whether it could be afforded. that will be raised but i don't think the concerns will come to much. they
will produce a grade book where they have their own proposals and they will attest at everything in their is affordable. i think there will be some arguments about free movement, this target for britain to become carbon neutral, one of the big unions doesn't think that is really at stake —— doesn't think that is realistic by 2030. younger voters, people that might be disengaged with the political process, some will argue that for them that date has to be in. a lot of the oddments will be on the small print and a sense that this is a target rather than a firm deadline. trade union negotiators are in there at the moment and that isa are in there at the moment and that is a type of thing they do day in day out, arguing about type of words and subclauses which could change the whole meaning of a policy.
and the prime minister is out campaigning today in mansfield — our news correspondent danjohnson was with him on the battle bus, and sent us this update the prime minister has been in mansfield this morning knocking on doors and putting in letterboxes. "getting brexit done" is the big slogan on the side of the bus. perhaps not the place you would expect to see a conservative prime minister, mansfield which is a former mining town and industrial area, but in 2017 this seat switched from always having a labour mp to having a conservative mp, who is now seeking re—election here. this is a sign that the conservatives are really intent on at least defending their gains in the next election. now the brexit party
have stood aside in seats like this, it is forjohnson and the conservatives to really campaign hard here to stop the seats moving back to labour. or indeed moving in any other direction. the prime minister is supposed to be moving to a farm on the edge of mansfield here to talk about his environmental policies. he is announcing today that he will plant more than 30 million trees over the next five years if he is still prime minister. that is something that has really come into the election campaign agenda over the first week or so withjeremy corbyn saying that his policies are all about decarbonising our economy and the liberal democrats saying that they would plant 60 million trees. so we already have a game of one—upmanship trying to get one up on each other. i spent half of the week up to my knees in floodwater in south yorkshire and a lot of people there as well as talking about flood defences, have talked about how important it is to plant trees further up river catchments to prevent rainwater so it doesn't flood the rivers and
lower lying areas. i don't think this policy is just in response to that but it is certainly something that people who have been affected by flooding this week will see as a positive if it is to be achieved the next five years. time and time again we have seen with environmental targets they have been promised and not delivered. very ha rd to very hard to deliver on some of these environmental promises. one thing that might disrupted a's campaign agenda is this serious fire in bolton. the prime minister has tweeted a message that his thoughts are with all those affected by that fire and he is thankful to the emergency services for the brave response and he is in touch with the chief fire officer to make sure they have everything they need. we will just see what impact that will have on the prime minister's plan today. danjohnson. and our news correspondent jon donnison is in london where liberal democrat leader jo swinson is campaigning. trees featuring on the liberal democrat agenda as well. exactly. it
might not look much behind us but it is actually a music conservatory and we have been treated to some wonderful young cellists here where jo swinson has been planting a tree in the back garden. as dan was saying, the liberal democrat announcement today, 60 million trees announcement today, 60 million trees a yearfrom announcement today, 60 million trees a year from 2025. that would mean by 2045 we would have an extra million hectares of forestry. she was asked if that wasn't a bit unrealistic but she has said the climate emergency necessitated that and if we want to get anywhere close to carbon neutrality this is the kind of policy that is needed. there was a time when the liberal democrats wouldn't have looked very optimistically at london for parliamentary seats. that has changed over the last 20 years or so. changed over the last 20 years or so. presumably now with their unashamed remain stance, they hope in london they will enjoy some
advantage. they do. she was asked about that this morning. this constituency in hampstead and kilburn, the liberal democrats came a pretty distant third in and 2017 but they are targeting seats like this because they did vote very heavily remain, about 75% of people in the camden borough voted remain in that referendum, so they do think they can pick up seats from labour. she was asked if there was a risk of splitting the remain vote, the possibility of doing some sort of pa ct possibility of doing some sort of pact with labour, but she said that labour's policy on a second referendum and remaining wasn't clear, particularly on the issue about whether they are a remain party or not so at this stage is not prepared to do any sort of deal. the snp leader nicola sturgeon has called on the scottish people
to deny boris johnson the ‘majority he craves'. speaking on the campaign trail on the east coast of scotland, she said that evidence suggests that brexit will hit the north east of scotland harder than anywhere else. all of us who live here in scotland can determine what kind of country we want scotland to be. i believe that the majority of people in scotland want a country that is fair, that is equal, that is prosperous, that has socialjustice and equality at its very heart. so if we decide our own future, we can choose a future where we prioritise investments in our national health service, in our publicly owned national health service, over tax cuts for the wealthiest. we can endorse a future where we continue to welcome people from all over the world to come here and live and make a contribution in scotland. we can choose a future where we prioritise lifting children out of poverty over investment in nuclear weapons of
mass destruction on the clyde. scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. we have natural resources and human resources that most other countries can only dream of. so we should be full of optimism for the future of our country. the biggest risk to that as a brexit that we didn't vote for. a brexit that all of the evidence suggest will hit all of the country hard but will hit the north—east of scotland harder than any other part of our country. so let us in this election decide that we want a better future in future where we build the kind of country we know in our hearts scotland can be. the path to better future starts at election. the priority must be that we in scotland play a full part
in depriving boris johnson that we in scotland play a full part in depriving borisjohnson of that we in scotland play a full part in depriving boris johnson of that parliamentary majority that he so craves. nicola sturgeon of the snp speaking in arbroath this morning. emergency crews have worked through the night, to tackle a fire at a student block of flats in greater manchester. the fire service said the flames spread across all six floors of the university accomodation building in bolton. two people were treated for their injuries at the scene. now it's time for a look at the weather. some will stage right across scotland, northern ireland and parts of england. still some heavy showers east of scotland and running through northern england and in parts of wales. a cool day for all with temp just for the vast majority in single figures. cloud and outbreaks of rain likely to continue through the
night, western scotland and northern ireland not as cold as last night but with clear skies there might be some frost. the same areas should be dry and sunny times free parts of the day. showers in the west of scotla nd the day. showers in the west of scotland and northern will gradually fade but one or two will continue. cloud remains in northern england and parts of wales and the south—west with some rain. to the south—west with some rain. to the south of that some sunshine and a chilly day hello this is bbc news. the headlines... prince andrew speaks publicly for the first time, about his friendship with the convicted sex offender, jeffrey epstein. in an exclusive interview with bbc newsnight, the duke says it was wrong to stay at epstein's house, and admits he let "the side down". i admit fully that myjudgment was probably coloured by my tendency
thatis that is the bit that i kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something becoming of a member of the royal family. prince andrew also said he had "no recollection" of meeting virginia roberts, who claims she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17 after being groomed by epstein. he denies any inappropriate conduct. in other news, scotland yard is investigating claims of electoral fraud, after the brexit party said its candidates had been offered inducements by conservatives to stand down. two people have been hurt in a large fire at a student accommodation building in bolton. more than 200 firefighters were brought in to tackle the blaze sport, now for for a full round up, from the bbc sport centre with gavin. the liverpool pair jordan henderson and joe gomez will miss england's final euro 2020 qualifier in kosovo tomorrow.
gomez was knocked on the knee in training yesterday and he hasn't recovered enough to travel. henderson has a viral infection. they've returned to their club, so england head to pristina today with a 23—man squad. with england already through to next summer's european championship, the other home nations continue their bids to join them today — and it won't be easy. northern ireland are third in a really tough group — they need to beat the netherlands later on, and the germans on tuesday — and hope other results go their way. wales also need some luck, as well as beating azerbaijan tonight and then hungary. scotland face cyprus later — they can't qualify automatically, but they're hoping to build some momentum going into the play—offs next spring. i think it would be good to get two positive results to take into it. we won the last game against san marino, w. scott a few goals and looked as though we could score more. that was great. if we can take that into these two games, everyone