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30th Dec 2021

BBC to investigate why it aired interview with Epstein’s ex-lawyer over Maxwell verdict

Steve Hopkins

The BBC interviewed a lawyer who used to represent Jeffrey Epstein

The BBC has confirmed it will investigate how an interview with a former lawyer of Jeffrey Epstein was aired shortly after the Ghislaine Maxwell verdicts, admitting that he was not “suitable”.

In a statement on Thursday, the broadcaster said its interview with Alan Dershowitz – who was himself accused of sexual abuse by Virginia Roberts Giuffre – was not a “suitable person to interview as an impartial analyst”.

Giuffre has made similar claims against Prince Andrew. Both men deny the charges.

“We did not make the relevant background clear to our audience,” the BBC said, adding: “We will look into how this happened.”

The interview with Dershowitz aired just minutes after Maxwell, 60, had been found guilty of five sex-trafficking counts for which she could face a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison.

Adam Wagner, a human rights barrister, wrote on Twitter that the interview represented a “huge error by the BBC” and that all the broadcaster had to do was search Dershowitz’s name on Google to see that he was not an appropriate guest.

The interview sparked outrage on social media and led to a string of complaints.

Dershowitz, a Harvard professor, was introduced as a “constitutional lawyer” with no reference made to his involvement in the case or previous role with Epstein.

The 83-year-old then tried to discredit his and Andrew’s accuser, with no push back.

“The most important thing for British viewers is that the government was very careful who it used as witnesses. It did not use as a witness the woman who accused Prince Andrew, who accused me, who accused many other people, because the government didn’t believe she was telling the truth,” he said.

“In fact, she, Virginia Giuffre, was mentioned in the trial as somebody who brought young people to Epstein for him to abuse, so this case does nothing to strengthen the case against Prince Andrew, indeed it weakens the case against Prince Andrew considerably because the government was very selective in who it used.

“It used only witnesses who they believed were credible and it deliberately didn’t use the main witness, the woman who started the whole investigation — Virginia Giuffre — because, ultimately, they didn’t believe she was telling the truth and they didn’t believe a jury would believe her and they were right in doing so, so it was very smart on the part of the government.”

Dershowitz sued Giuffre for defamation, saying that they had never met. He also claimed she was a “serial liar” and that she added his name to a list of people who sexually abused her only because he was famous, The Times reported.

The BBC did not mention the lawsuit against the two.

Shortly after the verdict, Maxwell’s legal team said they were already working on an appeal. “We firmly believe in Ghislaine’s innocence,” her lawyer, Bobbi Sternheim, told reporters.

Maxwell’s family also put out a statement saying they “firmly believe” in her innocence.

“We have already started the appeal tonight and we believe she will ultimately be vindicated.”

The verdict followed a month-long trial that featured testimony from four women who described being abused by Epstein between 1994 and 2004.

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Maxwell was found guilty of:

  • sex trafficking of a minor
  • transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
  • conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity
  • conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors
  • conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

She was found not guilty on a charge of enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts.

A statement from the US attorney’s office described Maxwell’s crime as “one of the worst imaginable.”

“The road to justice has been far too long but today, justice has been done,” said US attorney Damian Williams.

“I want to commend the bravery of the girls – now grown women – who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom. “Their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case, and today’s result, possible.”