Prince Andrew advisers ‘asked internet troll to help discredit’ sex abuse accuser

Aides allegedly wanted Twitter provocateur to set up fake account in bid to smear Virginia Roberts Giuffre

Prince Andrew attends a service at Manchester Cathedral marking the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme
Prince Andrew at commemoration service at Manchester Cathedral last July
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong/WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The Duke of York’s aides have been accused of seeking help from an online troll in an attempt to discredit the Royal’s most prominent sexual abuse accuser.

The Mail on Sunday reports that Prince Andrew’s advisers reached out to ex-model Molly Skye Brown, who has repeatedly attacked Virginia Roberts Giuffre on Twitter, asking if she “possessed information that might prove the infamous photograph of Andrew with his arm around [Giuffre], then 17, was manipulated”.

In what the paper describes as a “bizarre conversation”, one of the Duke’s aides is “alleged to have discussed with Brown the possibility of setting up a fake Twitter account to ensnare a woman they suspected of doctoring the photo”, which Giuffre claims was taken on the night of one of three occasions when she was forced to have sex with Andrew.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

But while Brown has tweeted unsubstantiated claims that Giuffre is a “prostitute that has confessed to trafficking 70 kids”, the online troll claims to have declined to help the royal aides and passed the messages to the FBI.

The newspaper says the overtures to Brown were led by PR expert Antonia Marshall, a “trusted lieutenant” of Andrew’s ex-wife Sarah Ferguson. Marshall is alleged to have sent Brown an email asking for a chat and thanking her for her “online support”.

Mark Gallagher, the Duke’s PR advisor, is also said to have contacted Brown, who claims to be “an innocent survivor of sexual abuse” and whose reasons for attacking Giuffre are unclear.

Andrew - whose team declined to respond to questions from The Mail on Sunday - has repeatedly insisted that the infamous photo was doctored and denies any wrongdoing.

But despite his denials, royal commentators have predicted that the scandal’s stain on the monarchy will “bubble up” again this year, the Daily Express reports.

Appearing on the Royally Obsessed podcast, Town & Country editor Caroline Hallemann argued that the spotlight will shine brighter on the Duke as a result of the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, who is alleged to have acted as a madame for late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

“The situation continues with Prince Andrew, he continues to be a blight on everything that the Royals do,” Hallemann said.

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.