JAN MOIR: Andrew's silence isn't golden… it makes him look tarnished

JAN MOIR: Prince Andrew’s silence isn’t golden… it just makes him look tarnished

At the top of the Royal Family tree, up there where the air is rarefied, a group of powerful men wring their hands in dismay. Beads of sweat pop on their foreheads. Frown lines furrow and deepen. Eyes roam over headlines, searching for succour, finding none.

They lift their eyes to the horizon only to see a tornado of sleaze barrelling towards them, picking up speed as it crosses the Atlantic. This grime-primed bomb of bad news has been heading their way for more than ten years, perhaps even for 20 — but nothing of note has been done to stop it or to try to address the issues that threaten to detonate under their noses.

The men don’t know what to do, so they have started to blame each other. You should have done something. No, you should have!

Who are these cowardly mudslingers and guilt-dodgers, hiding behind the gilt frogging of royal privilege? They are the princes and courtiers, the lawyers and dukes, the knights and commanders who form the patriarchy in excelsis. And now they are the patriarchy partly in a panic, too.

For this week Virginia Giuffre fired the only arrow left in her quiver of vengeance. Now aged 38, she has launched a civil lawsuit in New York in which she accuses Prince Andrew of battery, sexual assault and causing emotional distress when she was 17.

This is her last gasp in a geyser of accusations that have drenched the Prince in shame for years. He can’t recall ever meeting her. She is tired of being ignored. And now his legal team’s strategy of snubbing Miss Giuffre’s claims and refusing to co-operate fully with her lawyers or the American authorities seems to have backfired immensely.

This week Virginia Giuffre (pictured) fired the only arrow left in her quiver of vengeance. Now aged 38, she has launched a civil lawsuit in New York in which she accuses Prince Andrew of battery, sexual assault and causing emotional distress when she was 17

The reaction of the royal in-house posse? To worry about the Queen. THE QUEEN! They fret that this nasty business might spill over and spoil HM’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. OH NO, NOT THE JUBILEE! Drooping the Colour instead of Trooping the Colour, sounding the warning sirens instead of the golden trumpets. Romp and consequence instead of pomp and circumstance.

What is going on? The feelings of the Queen seem to be the primary concern here, not the trepidations of a young woman who believes herself to have been sex-trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein then wronged by a prince. That can’t be right.

On Channel 4 News this week, her lawyer David Boies claimed Prince Andrew and his team ‘have totally stonewalled’. He said: ‘He can ignore me. And he can ignore Virginia but he can’t ignore judicial process.’

Indeed. Read the room, guys. We live in a post-#MeToo world, one in which the actress Minnie Driver can claim, as she did this week, that ‘I don’t know a woman who hasn’t experienced sexual harassment in her life’. 

A world in which a 26-year-old female Silicon Valley chief executive is taken seriously when she says, as she did this week: ‘It has taken me years to shake the deep-seated belief that I only got to where I am due to older men wanting to have sex with me.’

And a world in which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo finds himself at the centre of a criminal investigation involving years-old allegations that he groped, kissed or made suggestive comments to 11 women. Such claims, in this day and age, do not go away and cannot be ignored.

Yet Andrew and his advisers continue to negotiate this torrid landscape with the tact and care of blindfold rhinos hoofing across a bed of eggs. The very least they could do is reframe the situation and rearrange their priorities into something approaching empathy for this woman and her plight. After all, Giuffre is a prominent and public campaigner against alleged sex-trafficking crimes by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. By all accounts, she is a victim herself. She deserves to be seen and heard, at the very least.

Sexual assault claims, in this day and age, do not go away and cannot be ignored. Yet Andrew (pictured driving) and his advisers continue to negotiate this torrid landscape with the tact and care of blindfold rhinos hoofing across a bed of eggs 

On the other hand, Prince Andrew has always categorically denied any sexual contact or relationship with Virginia, and there is not a shred of evidence to suggest he had (although a photograph of the two taken in London suggests they have met).

But if he has nothing to hide, why is he in hiding? What purpose does it serve? For a start, there are urgent questions he should be asking about Miss Giuffre’s motivation and some of the glaring discrepancies in her accounts of her meetings with him.

Instead, he is damning himself by his own silence and making an entire nation feel uncomfortable. Yet one can see his lawyers’ difficulty. They can barely let the royal boob out of his hutch to order a sandwich on his own, let alone face sustained questioning by razor-sharp legal minds.

The only time the Prince has spoken out was during the BBC interview with Emily Maitlis, in which he wasted no time in digging himself into an even deeper hole, no sweat. The pizza party, the lack of empathy, the general bumptiousness? It was a disaster.

At the moment, Prince Andrew has no legal obligation to talk to anyone: he is not the subject of any criminal investigation and no criminal charges have been brought against him. Despite what his worst enemies think, he remains an innocent man, one with the right to remain silent.

The problem is that his silence is not golden. And it makes him look more tarnished by the hour.

We’re all spy experts now 

Shows such as The Bureau, Fauda, Spooks and Line Of Duty have made armchair espionage experts of us all. 

They lulled us into believing that new developments in technology such as facial recognition software, global positioning systems and phone triangulation mean that spycraft has moved into a different universe. But no!

This week a British security guard at the British Embassy in Berlin was arrested on charges of spying.

This week a British security guard at the British Embassy in Berlin was arrested on charges of spying. Known only as David S, he is perhaps no Daniel Craig (pictured as James Bond)

Apparently, just some little tubby spy guy in a Ford Fiesta who has been accused of passing on envelopes of secrets to the Russians. So thrillingly old-school.

Known only as David S, he is perhaps no Daniel Craig, but I am not disappointed.

Because if a plump, bland unassuming nobody in Marks & Sparks loafers can get hired by secret services, there is hope for me yet.

Pass me my Meerschaum, Watson. We’ve got work to do.

Britain’s laws are flying in the face of justice

Another deportation flight to Jamaica was hampered by last-minute legal challenges. Of the 50 criminals and persistent offenders on board, 43 were reprieved and taken off the flight at Stansted airport.

Among their number were at least one murderer and one rapist, while collectively the offenders had been sentenced to 245 years in prison.

The Home Office said that all those on board were convicted criminals with no legal right to remain in the UK, while lawyers argued that that many had a claim to British citizenship.

The whole fiasco was no doubt funded by Legal Aid, paid for by you and me. In addition, the charter flight cost £300,000, also funded by the long-suffering British taxpayer.

Instead of ‘fuming’, why doesn’t Home Secretary Priti Patel close the loophole that allows these last-minute appeals? Because it seems to me that those who break the law are then saved by the law.

We can’t get rid of foreign-born offenders who commit crimes on British soil and we can’t stop foreigners entering the country illegally.

Can you imagine this happening in America? What a joke.

Dolly’s book at 75 gives us all hope 

Dolly Parton is writing her first novel, or a lil’ ol’ bitty book, as she might say. Run, Rose, Run is the tale of a young singer/songwriter on the up and up, determined to do whatever it takes to survive. Ring any cowbells?

How in tarnation has she waited for so long to put pen to parchment? Dolly has lived her life like an adventure book, while everything she says and sings could be a chapter heading. She noted early on in her career that it was ‘hard to be a diamond in a rhinestone world’ and that ‘if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain’.

She never tried quitting and she never quit trying, no siree. Like all those strong women in the macho country & western landscape of Texas and beyond, Dolly always stood up for herself and her own worth in a world filled with broken hearts, tom-catting menfolk and, worst of all, husband snatchers.

‘You ain’t woman enough to take my man,’ she sang . . . no hang on, that was Loretta Lynn. ‘Stand by your man, given him two arms to cling to,’ she once . . . no, that was Tammy Wynette.

‘I’m begging of you, please don’t take my man’? That was Dolly, who also has bittersweet memories and a piping hot cup of ambition freshly poured, every day, even now.

Perhaps it is not Dolly I am obsessed with, but age. For it is not the fact Miss Parton is writing a book that is so thrilling, it’s more that she has waited until she is 75 to do so!

Perhaps it is not Dolly I am obsessed with, but age. For it is not the fact Miss Parton is writing a book that is so thrilling, it’s more that she has waited until she is 75 to do so! Septuagenarian debuts are always cheering news — they make me believe that life is Not Over Yet.

Last week I went to see the quite sensational musical Anything Goes at the Barbican in London. Kill your alpaca for a ticket! It features Felicity Kendal (74) and Robert Lindsay (71) in key roles.

Felicity totters around gamely as Mrs Evangeline Harcourt, fretting about her dog Cheeky and saying things like: ‘Dear me, this is most upsetting.’

Meanwhile, Robert plays Moonface Martin, singing and dancing through every act like a young thing.

It is absolutely de-lovely, at any age.

Gormless Gav should revise his grades 

I very much enjoyed Gavin Williamson’s interview with LBC’s excellent Nick Ferrari on the day that students received their A-level results. A glorious moment, surely, for any Education Secretary to take to the airwaves!

Please, sir, what could possibly go wrong? Absolutely everything. Matters quickly turned farcical when Ferrari innocently asked the Education Secretary about his own A-level results. What grades did he receive?

Gavin waxed lyrical about his ‘dreams of doing social science at Bradford University’. He remembered ‘getting the envelope, opening up the envelope and feeling absolute delight’ — but would not reveal his grades.

‘Why won’t you tell me, is it a state secret?’ asked the bemused host.

Apparently, Williamson ‘forgot’ his grades. Balderdash. I’ve never forgotten my D pass in Remedial Knitting (Egg Cosy) or getting a monitor badge for Tidying The Pipe Cleaner Drawer.

Still, whatever his grades, Gavin remains an inspiration for pupils everywhere — living proof that you can be a bit of a twit but still attain high office.

Yes, it is terribly sad that Geronimo the alpaca has TB and now a death sentence. But farmers must deal with similar situations every day, and have to cull animals for the good of the herd. 

And while one sympathises with owner Helen Macdonald, it is not up to her to decide whether he should live or die. It might help if she were a little more responsible and began to prepare herself for the inevitable. 

Instead, Helen believes Geronimo’s tests are returning false positives and is threatening to film his ‘murder’ and put it online. A period of calm reflection is in order for all concerned. 

If even Keir Starmer thinks Geronimo should head for the great prairie in the sky, perhaps it is too late for this ungulate. 

Yes, it is terribly sad that Geronimo the alpaca (pictured) has TB and now a death sentence. But farmers must deal with similar situations every day, and have to cull animals for the good of the herd

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