good afternoon. the duke of york has told the bbc he has "no recollection" of ever meeting the woman who says she was made to have sex with him when she was 17. in an exclusive interview with newsnight, to be broadcast tonight, prince andrew insisted he didn't remember virginia roberts, despite the existence of a photograph showing the two of them together, said to have been taken in 2001. he also said it was wrong to stay at the home ofjeffrey epstein after he was found guilty of child sex offences.
at the time he felt it was the "right and honourable thing to do". the year is 2010. prince andrew was in new york. he is videoed staying at the mansion of a convicted child sex offender called jeffrey epstein who had just been released from an 18—month prison sentence. andrew's presence gives rise to questions put to him by bbc newsnight‘s emily maitlis. you were staying at the house of a convicted sex offender. yes. it was a convenient place to stay. i mean, i have gone through this in my mind so many times. at the end of the day, with the benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. but, at the time, i felt it was the honourable and right thing to do. i, i admit fully that myjudgment was probably coloured by my, um,
tendency to be too honourable, but that's just the way it is. and then, there is andrew's alleged friendship with the then 17—year—old virginia roberts who was onjeffrey epstein‘s payroll. she has alleged andrew seduced her. she says she met you in 2001, she says she dined with you, danced with you at tramp nightclub in london. she went on to have sex with you in a house in belgravia belonging to ghislaine maxwell, your friend. and your response? i have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever. you don't remember meeting her? no. it was in 2001, according to virginia roberts, that she had sex with andrew on three occasions including one orgy. the palace has denied that. in 2008, epstein was convicted of procuring for prostitution a girl under the age of 18. he was sentenced to
18 months in prison. it was in 2010, after epstein had been released from prison, that andrew visited him in new york and stayed at his mansion. i stayed with him. that's, that's the bit that... ..as it were i kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family. and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices, and i let the side down, simple as that. but nothing about this story is simple. jeffrey epstein can't answer questions, he took his own life in august. as for andrew, lawyers for virginia roberts want him to make a statement under oath. the us authorities would almost certainly like to hear his account of everything he witnessed. nicholas witchell, bbc news. and you can see the full interview in a bbc newsnight special on bbc two, tonight at nine o'clock. fire fighters have been tackling
a huge blaze at an accommodation block for university students in bolton. crowds of students were evacuated from the cube when the fire broke out at about 8.30 last night. it took 200 fire fighters nine hours to put the fire out — which had spread to every floor. two people were treated by paramedics. the fire service spoke at the scene this morning. we have identified and we do know everyone that resided in the building, and we are still working through trying to contact everyone that lived in the premises. at the minute we cannot confirm that everyone is accounted for. one thing that i would like to confirm and allay any fears was this cladding on this building was not the same cladding that was on grenfell. 0livia richwald is in bolton for us now. a large part of the centre bolton remains closed this afternoon, you cannot see the cue from here but it is adjacent to those fire engines. i
can describe it, the top has been com pletely can describe it, the top has been completely burnt away, all you can see is the struts. it was covered with a cladding which has been totally destroyed. the fire service was quick to point out it was not the same as the cladding used at g re nfell tower. the same as the cladding used at grenfell tower. it also says it has identified every student that should live in the building but has yet to ascertain the whereabouts of all of them. any students from that building are urged to get in touch to make sure everyone is safe. the fire service wanted to praise the work of the 200 officers here last night, according to them, their good work prevented the fire from spreading. the fire service remains at the scene this afternoon. thank you. senior labour party and trade union figures are meeting in central london today to decide which policies will be included in the party's election manifesto. labour has already announced a number of policies including a pa rt—nationalisation of bt to make broadband free for everyone, and extra spending on infrastructure. 0ur political correspondent
iain watson is at the meeting. iain, what other policies are likely to be announced? as you say, many of the eye—catching policies have already been announced and what they have in common is an active and greater role for the state. one policy which has been discussed currently inside that meeting and hasn't yet been announced is designed to appeal to older voters, the offer of more financial help to women who have been adversely affected by an increase in the state pension age. as you say, what labour has to do is on its many policies, which it will put in its manifesto. there was a demonstration this morning by people saying they want the rights of workers to free movement, notjust to be protected but to be extended. the manifesto will be carefully wedded but i would expect to see policies reassuring voters worried about immigration that they won't be
undercut by migrant labour. police say they're assessing two allegations of electoral fraud after claims that the conservatives offered peerages and government jobs to brexit party candidates to stand aside in the upcoming general election. the conservatives have dismissed the claims. i'm completely unaware of any of these conversations of the kind that you mention. the conservative party is not interested in pacts or deals or arrangements of this kind. we're standing in every seat across the united kingdom because we want people to have the chance to vote for conservatives so that we can have a working conservative majority to get parliament working again. elsewhere, the conservatives and the liberal democrats are both promising to plant millions of trees to tackle climate change if they win the election. the tories said there would be 30 million new trees every year by 2025. while the lib dems are pledging to plant twice as many. the bbc‘s children in need appeal has raised almost £48 million, slightly lower than last yea r‘s on—the—night total.
stars from strictly come dancing, doctor who, star wars and the england football team took part in the five—hour annual telethon. with all the sport now, here's gavin ra mjaun at the bbc sport centre. good afternoon. great britain's rugby league lions will head home without a win on their south hemisphere tour, after they lost 28—10 to papua new guinea in theirfinal match. it started well for great britain — they opened the scoring in port moresby when blake austin had a clear run into the corner for his first international try. they went 10—0 ahead but a spectacular try from edwin ipape set off the papua new guinea comeback. england lost the series 4—0. when you come away and play for your country it is the proudest thing you can do in your career. when you don't perform and let everyone down it is disappointing. we are all proud men but that is the game we are in. if you lose you have to wear it
for a while and figure out where you go next. england's women fell to an agonising defeat — a last—minute shirleyjoe try gave the papua new guinea 0rchids their first test win against england. they won 20—16 to level the series at 1—1. england batsmanjoe denly says he is "as near as 100% fit" to face new zealand in the first test, after a successful return from injury. he missed the t20 series but he's expected to bat at number three next week. denly scored 68 in england's finalwarm—up game — there are full match details on the bbc sport website. the liverpool pairjordan henderson and joe gomez will miss england's final euro 2020 qualifier in kosovo tomorrow. gomez was knocked on the knee in training yesterday and hasn't recovered enough to travel. henderson has a viral infection. the other home nations all play today. during the international break in 2009, germany's players were given some devastating news. their goalkeeper robert enke had taken his own life at the age of 32.
football in germany and here in the uk is still working on how to tackle mental health issues. joe lynskey reports. at one football club in germany, one player's legacy is written in theirfoundations. robert enke was hanover‘s goalkeeper. he was on course to play for his country at the 2010 world cup. but, in november 2009, he took his own life. robert enke had suffered from depression. he feared if the game found out, his career would be over. six months before his death, robert and his wife had adopted a baby girl. now, teresa enke encourages players to talk. that might have saved him. translation: looking back, it would have been easier in football if he had opened up. i think he would have had a chance to survive. it should be allowed in the dressing room to show your emotions and sometimes to say, i'm not feeling good. i often ask myself, what if?
a minute's silence was held for robert enke across german football last weekend. they say they have made progress in the last ten years. we try to bring it up that people understand that this is just an illness, like my cruciate ligament is torn, 0k, it is the same. i am hopeful that people are more likely to speak about their problems, not afraid as robert was to open himself. in britain, football's landscape is changing. david cotterill now runs one of many mental health awareness campaigns. as a wales international, he took in one of their greatest moments but two years after reaching the euro semifinals, he quit the game atjust 30. i was suffering with mental health issues throughout my career. my thing was i would tend to drink. numerous football players message me on a daily basis to say they are suffering, they don't talk about it. if a football player says they are struggling mentally, ifind it hard a manager will continue to play them on that saturday. robert enke‘s team—mates had no idea about his depression. for football, his story is a reminder of the human
being behind the athlete. joe lynskey, bbc news. that's all the sport for now, but there's live action coming up with the barbarians against fiji here on bbc one at two o'clock, and the tennis tour finals over on bbc two. that's it from me. the next news on bbc one is at 5.15. bye for now. hello. you're watching the bbc news channel. more now on our top story. prince andrew has told the bbc that he let the royal family down by staying at the home of the convicted sex offender, jeffrey epstein. speaking to newsnight‘s emily maitlis at buckingham palace, the duke addressed accusations that
he'd had sex with a 17 year old american girl. he said he couldn't remember meeting virginia roberts and denies allegations of inappropriate conduct. earlier i spoke to emily maitlis from newsnight and asked how the interview came about. there was months of planning that went into this. we've been in discussions with the palace about an interview of some kind with the duke of york for pretty much a year. i think it was raised more recently, in may, this is before epstein was arrested and charged, and following his death in a prison cell in new york in august, i think there was a sense that things had intensified. we began to understand the breadth and the scale of his exploitation and abuse. the young women at the centre were coming forward, speaking out for the first time, and there were more questions that the duke of york was facing himself about his friendship with epstein, about his visits to epstein‘s house in 2010, that was after he had
been convicted, and even about his own sexual conduct from the allegations of one of epstein‘s victims. so i think there was a sense that there would never be the right time. and in fact, my very first question to the duke of york, as you'll hear this evening, is — why now? and he explains it in those terms. there's never going to be a good time or a perfect time to talk about such deeply uncomfortable issues. and he chose to do it on thursday with us. it's a risk, though, isn't it, because one could argue that the story had disappeared from the headlines over recent weeks, and although it might come back again with future litigation, by doing this interview with you now, he's effectively put it notjust in the headlines of all the broadcasters, notjust the bbc, but on the front pages of all the newspapers this week. yeah. i mean, i can't speculate as to what was in his head or what his life has been like.
i mean, presumably there are things coming up, including his daughter's wedding next year, and my understanding was that this was going to be a sort of once in a lifetime event that he would speak, he would answer whatever we put to him. nothing was off record. there were no red lines. there were no preconditions? there were no preconditions on any of the questions that we asked. and, in fact, i think it's fair to say that i was expecting pushback on certain areas. we role played the interview, as you can imagine, with my editor, and she, as prince andrew was saying, "why would the bbc ask something so impolite, "so rude, so impertinent?" i was expecting to have to deal with a little bit of that, the sense that it was improper to ask those questions. i got none of that from prince andrew himself. and i think viewers will watch and they'll hear and they'll decide what they believe and what they trust and what they take away
from what he says. but from the perspective of the interviewer, there was nothing that i asked that he didn't actually engage with. there was no attempt to deviate or to block the question. and afterwards he thanked me for asking the questions that were out there, because clearly the worst thing for the bbc and the worst thing for the royal family would be to not ask the questions that were already in the public domain as far as you possibly can. standing back now, 2a hours, 36 hours after you recorded you, do you think the ——interview, do you think we learn something from this? i have been amazed, actually, at the level of detail that has come out. just going back through the transcript, because you sit through an interview and you... you are in the moment. ..you're catching up with the very last thing. but it's only when you go over the transcript as a whole, you understand
the level of detail, the fresh information, the new lines. there were extraordinary things, sometimes a turn of phrase, sometimes an explanation, sometimes things that we've never known about the duke of york himself that come to us fresh for the first time. so i think, you know, as an interviewer, that's what made it compelling for me. i came away thinking this is an extraordinary level of detail. i never expected that. and leaving aside the allegations, the epstein allegations, the ones that virginia roberts has made, as she was then called, it's rare for him to do interviews. he doesn't do broadcasts. he's never come across as someone, particularly comfortable in that kind of environment, unlike, say, his nephews who've grown up in it, even unlike his older brother. on that level, at least, did you feel you came away with a better sense of the man than you had before? i think it's impossible to overstate how unusual this was for us. i mean, a sit down with the royal
family, that's not sort of walking around a garden talking about, you know, trees or good works. this is quite rare in itself. and an accountability interview of this nature felt extraordinary for that reason. as you said, he doesn't do many sit—down interviews. and this was an interview in which he knew how uncomfortable the subject matter would be. and there are moments where it is quite raw and it's quite visceral and it's quite uncomfortable for the viewer. and i think what you take away from that, aside from the content, is that this is a man right at the heart of the royal family who doesn't actually do this ever. earlier, i spoke to the media lawyer mark stephens and asked him what he made of prince andrew's
decision to speak out now. well, i think any reputation management professional, whether a lawyer or pr, is going to say that this was a catastrophic error of judgment. only if you were absolutely certain that prince andrew could draw a line under every question and there were complete and fullsome answers to all of the questions would you say that this was a wise move. the questions that have already been left begging about why he went afterjeffrey epstein was convicted to stay with him for several nights, doesn't really answer — people will have real concerns about that — the answer to the question about not knowing or not remembering. of course, members of the royal family do see a lot of people but there are challenges about that and this is going to open up more questions and answers.
up more questions ——than it answers. it gives a body of information to the people in america and at the moment he isjust a bit part player in all of that, very important in terms of celebrity or status, but he isjust a bit part player in the case that is going on in america. this brings him far more centrally to it. from a reputational perspective, i'm not sure this was very clever at all. the caveat obviously we have to put on this, as i was saying to nick a few moments ago, none of us have seen the whole interview and may be seeing the whole interview and putting those clips into the context of the whole interview, one draws a different impression. for now, though, you've mentioned the legal cases that are ongoing in the united states. i have already said the duke has denied all
the allegations and says he has engaged in no inappropriate behaviour but one of the lawyers said this morning that if he can give an interview to the bbc, he can give a deposition to the courts. what is his legal status? because there is no charges against him. he is potentially a witness. is there any way those who are supporting virginia roberts' case can advance that? he is a witness. he doesn't have to give evidence. the americans can try and subpoena him but he has such status that he has diplomatic community so it doesn't have two subject himself to forensic cross examination. indeed, most people believed that he would effectively keep his own counsel, keep silent and rest on the diplomatic community. we can't inferand shouldn't infer any inappropriate behaviour.
he denies any inappropriate behaviour and that is where it stands. nicholas witchell's wise counsel and yourown, shaun, in waiting to see how this plays out when we see this is of course right. the real challenge here is not really tonight. everybody will be watching with bated breath this interview by emily maitlis. but the real problem is this gives a series of data points to lawyers and to journalists in america and around the world. this is going to be just the start. what effectively prince andrew has done is lit the blue touch paper and really things are going to spiral out of control. that is the concern for the royal family here.
they are always very good at controlling situations, not entering into the fray, and that is the wisdom of many, many years. it is coming out today that courtiers at the palace are saying that they don't think this was particularly wise and nicholas witchell alluded to that in his package as well and his comments. i think it is something that is reallyjust the start of the story and not the end. voting is drawing to a close in sri lanka's presidential election and early indications suggest that the turnout was as high as 80%. it was a campaign dominated by concerns over security and the economy. the election was just seven months after a co—ordinated attack on churches and hotels in which 259 people were killed. police say voting has been largely peaceful although gunmen atacked a convoy of buses carrying mainly muslim voters to a polling station. no—one was injured. yogita limaye has more from colombo.
before the polling opened, we had that incident of violence from sri lanka's north—west, where gunmen opened fire on two buses carrying muslim voters to polling booths. police say ther are still investigating who is behind those attack. they say that no one was injured in it. apart from that, a body that monitors election violations here in colombo says that they've had about 150 complaints about what they say are violations of the election code of conduct, and those have now been passed on to the election commission as well as the police. this is a very significant election for this country, as you say, it comes about seven months after those easter sunday bombings, which have certainly been a big issue on people's minds. a first—time voter i met earlier today said that since those attacks she felt she could die and that is why she would vote for someone who she believed could make
the country more stable. but it is actually the candidates that are standing, the two frontrunners, that is what makes it a very significant election. on one hand there is gotabhaya rajapaksa, he is a wartime defence chief. he is also the brother of a sri lankan strongman mahinda rajapa ksa, who was the president of this country for ten years but he is a controversial figure. on one hand, many among the sinhalese majority adore him, they credit him with ending sri lanka's bloody civil war that lasted 30 years, ending it in 2009. but among the minority communities, the tamil and muslim communities, there is a fear, his name evokes fear because they accuse him of human rights violations, particularly during the end of that war and even after it. his main rival is sajith premadasa who is sri lanka's housing minister. he is the son of the former presidency was actually assassinated by tamil rebels. he is the candidate from the ruling party
and has projected himself as the more democratic choice. his big challenge will be appeasing people who believe that the government that he was a part of failing to prevent the bombings in april this year. at least 33 people have been arrested in demonstrations marking the first anniversary of the french yellow vest movement. police have fired tear gas at protesters to disperse them after projectiles were thrown at officers. in other parts of paris demonstrators have tried to block roads and set up barricades. the protests, which have turned violent during some weeks, were sparked over a planned fuel tax rise. it then developed into a wider call for political change. hugh schofield is on streets of paris and has the latest. we are in the place d'italie in the south—eastern corner of paris and witnessing scenes that it has to be said of very reminiscent of the high point of the gilets jaunes movement a year ago. the place has been occupied by protesters, some of them
in yellow vests but many of them not in yellow vests, and they have created a barricade here, set fire to it, surrounded here by riot police who are lobbing in the occasional tear gas grenade and the occasional mass movement panic of people running here and there. this is the official starting point of the march which will take place this afternoon across paris. one has to keep a certain perspective. this is not a mass riot but it is tense here. the gilets jaunes movement in general has been petering out over the last months. this, the anniversary, is a chance for the diehards to show that they are still there, still very much around and are occupying the space. hugh schofield there in paris. russia, norway and lithuania have taken part in a carefully co—ordinated operation that saw the exchange of five convicted spies. the swap took place in a russian enclave on the baltic sea — and took weeks to organise. tim allman reports. frode berg was a norwegian
border guard. in 2017, he was arrested by the russians, and accused of espionage. he denied the charges but was convicted and sentenced to 1a years in prison. now, however, he is free and heading home. translation: he is in lithuania, along with representatives of the norwegian authorities and his lawyer. he will come home to norway as soon as it is practically possible. i had a quick conversation by phone with him, and said, "welcome home to norway." also looking forward to a warm welcome home — nikolai filipchenko and sergei moisejenko — two russian men who were arrested and convicted of spying in lithuania, not long after two lithuanian men were convicted of spying in russia. so, five spies, three countries — one obvious solution... ..a classic cold war—style spy swap. the exchange taking place
at a border post in the russian enclave of kaliningrad. translation: the state must defend its citizens, and use all available tools for that. citizens must know that the state would not abandon them. this is one of the foundations of trust in one's own country. frode berg will soon be back home with his family, his ordeal at an end. an agent of a foreign power or an innocent man wrongly convicted ? this whole event, a reminder that spycraft and espionage live on. tim allman, bbc news. now it's time for a look at the weather with stav. good afternoon. it is looking pretty chilly this week. variable cloud, quite a bit of cloud with low— pressure quite a bit of cloud with low—pressure nearby and we will continue to see some rain. through this evening it is likely to stay
wet across coastal parts of scotland, north—east england, down through wales and the south—west. showers in western scotland and northern ireland as well. not quite as cold here as it was last night. but a little bit of frost here and there but for most under the cloud it will be less cold than the previous night. as we head through sunday it will stay pretty damp across northern england. maybe heavy bursts of rain for the north—east of england so it could be quite right here —— it could be quite wet here. we have a building area of high pressure from monday and tuesday, a window of nice fine conditions for both monday and tuesday. plenty of sunshine around. very cold morning with mist and fog. deep in the way, low— pressure with mist and fog. deep in the way, low—pressure encroaching from the atlantic, increasing cloud under stronger breeze from the south. temperatures will creep up by the end of the week.