‘Not good enough’: Lisa slams royal family
As pressure mounts on Prince Andrew to speak to the FBI about his connection to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his alleged co-conspirator Ghislaine Maxwell, the question remains - why hasn't the Queen stepped in, forcing her son to co-operate with US authorities?
This question was on The Sunday Project host Lisa Wilkinson's mind during a segment on Sunday night, which followed Ms Maxwell's arrest a few days ago.
Wilkinson started by interviewing a friend of Ms Maxwell, who claimed the British socialite - who had connections with some of the world's most powerful people - was in fact a victim of Epstein herself.
"She was in love with Jeffrey Epstein," said former New York stockbroker Laura Goldman. "It doesn't excuse what she did. She really thought that he would marry her. I feel in some ways he gaslit her.
"He kind of convinced her that he was going to do it at some point and then never did. She didn't see it and kept thinking, if I do one more thing for him, he will marry me. She was also a victim of Jeffrey. You can be a predator and a victim."
Asked whether that excused Ms Maxwell allegedly creating dozens more victims, whose lives were destroyed, Ms Goldman replied: "There's no excuse, absolutely no excuse. I have no problem with her going to jail. My whole point is, though, that the story is more complicated."
According to Ms Goldman, who Wilkinson said had a "chequered past", Ms Maxwell was "very loyal" to Prince Andrew and would never reveal anything incriminating about him.
"She feels very loyal to him, he helped her after her father died. He helped launch her in New York society. And (for) that she will never betray him. I also think she's not sure he did anything wrong. Not saying she didn't. I think she feels he's been a victim in this, too."
Lisa Wilkinson spoke to Laura Goldman, a friend of Ghislaine Maxwell about the complicated and disturbing relationship she had with Jeffrey Epstein, why she thinks Maxwell will ever give up information on Prince Andrew. pic.twitter.com/wiOZXpe5JB— The Project (@theprojecttv) July 5, 2020
When the interview was over, Wilkinson delivered a monologue addressing the Epstein scandal more generally.
She specifically took aim at Andrew for failing to co-operate with prosecutors, and at the royal family for treating Meghan Markle and Prince Harry as a bigger scandal than the allegations of sexual abuse against the Queen's son.
"This story will simply not go away," said Wilkinson.
"As of Friday, the woman accused of providing Jeffrey Epstein with underaged girls, is in custody and with Epstein's death, Ghislaine Maxwell may be the only one alive who knows all the secrets.
"If Laura Goldman is right and Maxwell doesn't give up information on Prince Andrew, then it's up to the Queen's second son to do so himself.
"Not likely, given Andrew claims he doesn't even remember meeting Virginia, even casting doubt over photograph figure evidence."
Prince Andrew has suggested the photo of himself, Ms Maxwell and a teenage Virginia Giuffre could have been doctored. During a "trainwreck" interview with BBC's Newsnight said he had "no recollection" of ever meeting her.
He also claimed that on the night when Ms Giuffre has alleged she was forced to have sex with him, he was actually at a Pizza Express restaurant in Woking, Surrey for his daughter's birthday.
"Sadly, we will never know if that is true, because days after that interview, the police denied a freedom of information request that could have confirmed this, or not," Wilkinson continued.
"What we do know is authorities are eager to speak to him.
"That's why it is now up to the palace to push for Andrew to front up unconditionally."
In a statement issued last December, Buckingham Palace said: "It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."
The Palace has now stopped responding to requests for comment on the Epstein scandal.
"So, who do we believe?" Wilkinson concluded.
"Well, as long as Andrew remains under palace protection, we will never know. By any standard, that is simply not good enough.
"For 68 years, the Queen has demonstrated herself to be someone who chooses duty over family. The greater good over personal interests.
"Surely in 2020, for Her Majesty and the royal family to retain any authority and respect, if she believes child sex slavery is a scourge that needs to be eradicated, and has any empathy for the dozens of victims of Jeffrey Epstein, then she simply has no option but to compel Andrew to fully co-operate with authorities.
"To quote former Australian of the Year, David Morrison: 'The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.'"
"Surely in 2020 for her Majesty and The Royal Family to retain any authority and respect, if she believes child sex slavery is a scourge that needs to be eradicated, then she simply has no option than to compel Andrew to fully co-operate with authorities, Your Majesty it's time" pic.twitter.com/jAsq54p8Bm— The Project (@theprojecttv) July 5, 2020
Ms Maxwell, a British socialite who had managed to evade authorities for years, has been charged with multiple offences related to the underage sex ring she allegedly helped run alongside Epstein.
Most of the charges in question concern a period between 1994-1997. They could see her jailed for 35 years, if she's convicted.
Multiple women who were abused by Epstein have alleged he and Ms Maxwell forced them to have sex with other rich and powerful men.
On Thursday, Ms Maxwell faced a New York City judge remotely after prosecutors accused her of building a rapport with girls as young as 14, then helping Epstein to sexually exploit them, sometimes taking part in the abuse herself.
Originally published as 'Not good enough': Lisa slams royal family