The accountancy giant KPMG is not renewing its sponsorship of Prince Andrew’s entrepreneurial scheme Pitch@Palace, it has emerged, in the wake of his much-derided interview in which he defended his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, reports The Guardian.
The Duke of York has been heavily criticised as having shown neither contrition nor sympathy for Epstein’s child victims in the BBC Newsnight interview and his suitability as patron to scores of charities and organisations has been called into question as a result.
On Monday, after it was reported by Sky News, Buckingham Palace confirmed that KPMG, a founding partner of Pitch@Palace, a mentorship scheme for budding entrepreneurs, was no longer involved, its contract having ended in October.Advertisement
The accountancy firm refused to comment but the prince’s relationship with Epstein – and Virginia Giuffre (formerly Roberts), who says she had sex with the duke when she was 17, a claim he denies – has been under renewed scrutiny since the billionaire financier was arrested in July. The previously convicted child sex offender killed himself in prison in August.
The palace said a full programme of Pitch@Palace events would continue. However, the organisation’s webpage listing its supporters, which previously included KPMG as well as the likes of Air Asia, Bosch, Standard Chartered, the Stelios Philanthropic Foundation, Bank of China and Barclays, had been taken down.
Another partner, AstraZeneca, said it was reviewing its involvement in the scheme. A spokesman for the pharmaceutical company said: “Our three-year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed.”
The insurance company Aon confirmed it had asked after the BBC interview for its logo to be removed from the Pitch@Palace website, where the firm was described as a global partner. But it said that its name should never have been on the webpage in the first place as it has never been involved in the scheme in any capacity and was at a loss as to how it had been included.
Most of the charities and other organisations to which Prince Andrew has given his patronage, or with whom he holds some other role, remained tight-lipped on Monday, offering neither support nor condemnation.
However, the Outward Bound Trust, founded in 1941, said it would be holding a special meeting to discuss the allegations against the prince, formerly a trustee but now a patron of the charity.
A spokeswoman said: “We are coordinating an additional board meeting that will take place in the next few days. On the agenda will be a discussion of the issues raised by the interview given by Prince Andrew on Saturday.”