Queen was ‘ultimate mark’ of Jeffrey Epstein, says Fergie’s ex-lover

Prince Andrew: Russell Myers on ‘royal return’

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John Bryan, a US businessman who dated Sarah Ferguson and was embroiled in what became known as the “toe-sucking scandal” in 1992, said he believed convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein aimed at blackmailing Queen Elizabeth II. The fact Epstein, who was found dead in his prison cell in August 2019, failed to reach the late sovereign, Mr Bryan added in his first tell-all interview, leads him to think the Duke of York is “innocent” of the allegations made against him – and regarding which Prince Andrew has always firmly denied any wrongdoing.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the businessman claimed: “It was just an extortion plot. People always ask how Epstein made his money. He was supposed to be this tax wizard. But it was all a con.

“He blackmailed rich men and then made them pay to avoid scandal. He made hundreds of millions of dollars this way.

“Epstein tried to lure Andrew into his web, but I believe his ultimate mark was the Queen.”

Epstein was found guilty by a Florida state court in 2008 of procuring a child for prostitution and of soliciting a prostitute.

In 2019, he was arrested again on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors in Florida and New York, claims against which Epstein always denied any wrongdoing and pleaded not guilty.

The death of Epstein in prison precluded the possibility of pursuing criminal charges against the disgraced financial tycoon. He was also never found guilty of blackmailing rich individuals.

Mr Bryan added he believes Andrew “is innocent” as, if the allegations made against him were genuine, “then Epstein would have used that to try and bribe the Queen into paying out millions to protect her family”.

He added: “Andrew has never had any money. The Queen was the one with money.

“I truly believe Epstein was going after her but Andrew never gave him the ammunition to do so.”

Mr Bryan added he also believes the Duke of York’s innocence over the allegations made against him as the businessman claimed to have only ever seen Andrew with women in their mid-20s while he was dating the Duchess of York.

The businessman added: “I truly believe if there was anything untoward going on I would have known about it, Sarah would have known about it.

“But there was never a hint of that. I remain and will always remain an outsider, so let me be the first outsider to say that I believe Prince Andrew – and I don’t say it lightly.

“This outsider has a lot of inside knowledge.”

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, launched a civil lawsuit in New York in the summer of 2021 against Prince Andrew, who has always denied any wrongdoing, in which she alleged to have been sexually abused by the Duke while she was a teenager.

In January this year, after New York district judge Lewis Kaplan ruled against a request made by Andrew’s lawyers to have the case dismissed, the Duke returned his military and royal patronages to his mother the Queen.

The Duke, who had already stepped back from public duties after his disastrous interview with Newsnight in November 2019 focused on his association with Epstein, has since not undertaken any royal engagements on behalf of the Crown.

A few weeks after Andrew’s meeting with the Queen over his patronages, he and Ms Giuffre reached a settlement out of court, which didn’t represent an admission of liability on behalf of the Duke of York.

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