Former royal police officer rejects claim that Prince Andrew was not close with Ghislaine Maxwell, says she had special access to palace

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Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell together at Royal Ascot, June 22, 2000.Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

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A former protection officer at Buckingham Palace described a claim from Prince Andrew that he was not close friends with Ghislaine Maxwell as “nonsense.”

Paul Page, who worked at the palace for six years, told Insider that he saw Andrew and Maxwell together at least a dozen times, and heard of many more visits from colleagues who also managed visitors to Andrew's residence.

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Page alleged that Maxwell was given special treatment when she came, with officers told to keep her name out of official records.

Page was arrested, tried, and convicted for an elaborate £3 million fraud, and jailed for it in 2009, as the Guardian reported at the time. Buckingham Palace has cast doubt before on his claims about his time there.

Page also mentioned the pair's closeness during the trial, as noted by BuzzFeed, which cited internal Metropolitan Police documents describing the allegations.

Speaking to Insider by phone on Thursday, Page recalled seeing the two together around 2001 having a picnic in the grounds of Buckingham Palace, appearing to demonstrate their closeness.

He said the location — close to the Queen's rooms within the complex — was not a usual place for people to gather.

Representatives for Prince Andrew declined to comment for this article. After Page raised some of these allegations in 2019, a Buckingham Palace spokesperson said: “During the trial, which resulted in a conviction for fraud, Mr Page made a series of allegations about the Royal Household and members of the Royal Family, none of which were substantiated.”

'I don't know what planet he's on'

Page's claims came the day after Andrew's lawyers formally responded to a sexual assault allegation made by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre.

In August last year, Giuffre sued Andrew. She said that Epstein, Maxwell and Andrew all forced her to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, in Maxwell's London home. Andrew denies the allegation.

As part of her complaint, Giuffre's lawyers say Andrew “was a close friend” of Maxwell. Maxwell was convicted late last year on five counts of sex trafficking on behalf of Epstein, and plans to appeal.

As part of his denial of Giuffre's allegations, Andrew denied being close to Maxwell.

Speaking to Insider on Thursday, Page said: “If he's put that, then I don't know what planet he's on … why would you say that? That's just nonsense.”

Page said he first became aware of Maxwell's visits around 2001, when he was working on the front gate at Buckingham palace and was responsible for letting people in.

An exterior view of Buckingham Palace in London.SOPA Images/Getty Images

“Obviously, they have to have an appointment,” he said. Officers on the front gate were given a daily list of who is expected at the palace, which he would note in a book, he said.

But, Page said, that day an officer called him at lunchtime and told him that there was an appointment for Andrew, and that he should not write the person's name in the book.

In the legal documents cited by BuzzFeed, Page mentioned other women being let into the palace without their names being noted.

When he learned Maxwell's identity, Page told Insider it sparked his attention because she is the daughter of disgraced British media tycoon Robert Maxwell, who died in 1991.

After her car was waved through, Maxwell headed towards Andrew's private staircase, Page said.

Later that day, he said he saw Andrew and Maxwell were sitting on the grass under the Queen's bedroom window “having a massive picnic.”

“Fucking hell, if the Queen knew who was sat in her back garden I don't think she'd be very happy,” he said.

“After that, [Maxwell] was a regular visitor … the standard procedure was that when Ghislaine turns up, she was to be let straight in,” he said.

“We thought she was in a relationship with him,” Page told Insider. “That's my honest held belief.”

Page has previously alleged that Andrew and Maxwell had an “intimate relationship,” a claim he made in an ITV documentary aired last week.

“He basically bullied and manipulated us to break strict security rules,” Page said of the instruction to not note Maxwell's name. In the he said.

He said that some officers tried to complain, but were frightened to push back too much for fear of repercussions.

Page told Insider that other officers he knows from his time at the palace remain too scared to speak, which he said might breach nondisclosure agreements.

There is no evidence to corroborate the specific claims Page made to Insider. But other sources show Maxwell had privileged access to Buckingham Palace before.

A photograph published by The Sunday Telegraph, dated 2002, shows Maxwell with actor Kevin Spacey inside the palace's throne room. The newspaper, citing palace sources, said they were there at Andrew's invitation.

A BBC article also noted two other occasions that Maxwell was at royal residences with Andrew in 2000, at Windsor Castle in June and at Sandringham in December.

Since Page's ITV appearance, others have backed up some of his other claims about the prince.

Charlotte Briggs, who told The Sun that she worked for the royals in the 1990s, and former protection officer Ken Wharfe, both raised similar stories about the prince's character — although not about his interactions with Maxwell.

How close really are Andrew and Maxwell?

This photograph of Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, apparently at Balmoral, was offered in evidence by Virginia Giuffre’s lawyers.US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York

According to ITV, Andrew and Maxwell first met at Balliol College, Oxford, where Maxwell studied in the mid-1980s, around the time Andrew was serving in the Royal Navy.

Maxwell's brother Ian told the network that Andrew and Maxwell were “good friends” but that he didn't know how often they saw each other.

Virginia Giuffre's lawyers have pointed to other apparent evidence of Andrew and Maxwell's closeness, including several photographs of them socializing together.

This includes a widely-circulated photograph of them together at Maxwell's house in London.

In his legal rebuttal Wednesday, Andrew's lawyers said they did not have enough information to be able to confirm or deny the veracity of the pictures.

Andrew suggested in a 2019 BBC interview that the photo showing them together may have been fake.

In December, a photograph emerged appearing to document Epstein and Maxwell's 1999 visit to Balmoral, the Queen's Scottish residence, apparently on Andrew's invitation.

In the BBC interview, Andrew also spoke about hosting both Epstein and Maxwell for a shooting weekend in 2000 at the Queen's Sandringham House on the occasion of Maxwell's birthday, though he denied it was a birthday party.

He did, however, say that Maxwell, rather than Epstein, was the “key element” of the event, with Epstein merely as a “plus one.”

Claims have also emerged that the prince partied with Epstein and Maxwell in a luxury resort in Phuket, Thailand in 2001, according to The Sun and The Mirror.

Asked about whether his fraud conviction makes his claims about Andrew unreliable, Page said: “I went to prison and rightly so, but it doesn't detract from the fact that I'm telling the fucking truth.”

Read the original article on Insider

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