this is bbc news. i'm julian worricker. the headlines at 3... prince andrew speaks publicly for the first time, about his friendship with the convicted sex offender, jeffrey epstein. in an exclusive interview with bbc newsnight, the duke says it was wrong to stay at epstein‘s house, and admits he let "the side down". i admit fully that...that...that...that my... ..judgment was probably coloured by my... ..um, tendency to be too honourable, but that's just the way it is. prince andrew also said he had "no recollection" of meeting virginia roberts, who claims she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17 after being groomed by epstein. he denies any inappropriate conduct. an investigation is under way into the cause of a fire
at a student accommodation building in bolton after more than 200 firefighters spent nine hours putting it out. competing on climate change policies. the conservatives say they will plant 30 million trees a year by 2025 if it wins the general election but the lib dems say they can plant twice as many trees. meanwhile, leading labour and trade union figures are meeting to decide which policies will be included in the party's election manifesto. and in half an hour, the bbc‘s technology programme click looks at the perils of the gig economy. 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". our royal correspondent, nicholas witchell reports. the year is 2010. prince andrew is in new york. he's videoed staying at the mansion of a convicted child sex offender called jeffrey epstein, who'd 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. but you were staying at the house... yes. ..of a convicted sex offender. he sighs heavily.
it was a convenient place to stay. i mean, i've gone through this in my mind so many times. at the end of the day, um, with the benefit of all the hindsight that one can have, um, it was definitely the wrong thing to do. um, but, at the time, i felt it was the honourable and right thing to do. and i...i admit fully that...that...that my... ..judgment 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 on epstein‘s payroll. she's 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. 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...that's the bit that. . .that. . .that. .. ..as it were i kick myself for on a daily basis... he chuckles. ..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 most certainly like to hear his account of everything he witnessed. earlier, i spoke to nicholas and asked him why he thought prince andrew has decided to speak to the media now. well, newsnight, emily maitlis, said they were in discussions for some six months. prince andrew is always keen to talk about his work but, clearly, no interview could have been done without addressing all of this. as i understand it, there were discussions over a number of months with, interestingly, andrew's office, rather than with the central royal communications, the buckingham palace press office. they have been left rather out of all this. now, whether their
advice would have been to go ahead with this interview, i'm not so sure. but i think what determined it was andrew's own determination to do... ..an interview. it's high risk, it's a gamble for him and his reputation. it has placed it across every front page in this country and it's getting a lot of international attention, as well. it has given legs to the allegations against him. he will be hoping, obviously, that he will be able to rebut them in an effective and credible way. and that his wish, of course, is to move on, draw a line, and move on. it's his 60th birthday quite soon and i think he wants to just be rid of this. but whether that will be the net effect of all of this is perhaps a little naive, but it is important to qualify that by saying that until we have seen and heard the entire interview... hour—long programme, i think it is... it is... ..unwise to kind of prejudge
what will be the outcome of this. in terms of what we do know of its content at this point, what do you highlight at this stage? well, the two central areas... i was going to say the relationship with virginia roberts, they absolutely deny there was any relationship but what contact was there with virginia roberts? in what way does he credibly deal with her allegations of sexual contact? we will have to wait and see. it is important to say, of course, that all along, buckingham palace has absolutely categorically denied any impropriety and all of that. but we need to hear it from andrew's own mouth later on tonight. the other aspect of this is his friendship withjeffrey epstein. as he acknowledges, that's where he is caught out, there is really no mitigation that he can find for that, for visiting and continuing a friendship with a man who, by 2010, was a convicted child sex offender.
now, andrew is already on the record as saying that he went to new york to see him to break off the friendship. quite why you need to stay for several nights in his mansion in new york in order to break off a friendship is one of those questions. but we need to hearjust how authoritatively and with what sort of conviction he actually deals with these issues in the interview tonight. and the phrase "let the side down" is interesting, because it it implies the sense of looking at this through the prism of what it does to the royal family. yes, and i think he will be intensely aware of that. he's a proud man. he will know that his mother must be dismayed at the impact that this has been having and continues to have. we are told the queen approved him doing this interview. i suspect by this stage, at the age of 93, sometimes
it is said he's her favourite son, or whatever, and if he comes along and says, i want to do this, i believe it is the right thing to do, she will have said, well, if you are absolutely sure, go ahead. but i think there will be great concern within buckingham palace at the impact that this is all having on, as it were, the good name of the royal family. and they will be very anxious, obviously, to protect that. thank you very much indeed. i'm joined now via webcam from cambridge by dr anna whitelock. she's a historian, and royal commentator. good afternoon. hello. iwonder good afternoon. hello. i wonder what your view is of the decision taken by prince andrew to do this interview now. well, i think it is understandable but it is certainly one, which the palace will have hoped hadn't had to be taken. but of course, this is a story which just hasn't gone away. every month that hasn't gone away. every month that has gone by and every week that has gone by, there is some new additional pressure being placed on andrew. and as nicholas witchell said, andrew wants to get on with
work, he wants to be a busy royal. this story won't go away. it is high—stakes. it is a gamble. we haven't seen the whole tape. the accents that we have seen, in my reading, i mean, i don't necessarily know if the words he's chosen, which of course are very carefully chosen, are actually perhaps the right ones to appease the questions and public opinion. i think the idea that staying with epstein was the honourable thing to do, i think some would think that the word honourable, the definition, would be quite interesting. and, of course, there is no explicit denial, actually, of a sexual contact with virginia roberts. there is merely "i have no recollection of her" and again, as nicholas witchell said, there is that photograph. 0ne wonders really whether this interview is going to close things down. we haven't seen the whole
thing and that remains to be seen. when you look back at other relatively recent examples and members of the royal family deciding that the best thing to do is to front up for want of a general expression and speak to the media, how does this one compare? well, this is potentially... well, certainly virginia roberts would like it to be a live legal case. her lawyers wa nt like it to be a live legal case. her lawyers want him to answer questions under oath about this. this isn't simply about marital indiscretions. it's not about opening up about mental health or other emotional difficulties that the royals have had at different points. this is a very, very tawdry affair. this is dealing with a convicted sex offender. and epstein, as nicholas witchell said, he can't get away from the fact that prince andrew can't get away from the fact that they were friends. this association went on for many years. and he
stayed with him after he was released with prison. it does seem odd... if prince andrew's defence is that he thought it was the honourable thing to do, for many people that will read and rather oddly and i don't necessarily think... we haven't seen the whole tape, but on the basis of what i've seen, not convinced this will shut things down and ghana public sympathy for andrew —— and get public sympathy. in the way that him and the palace are hoping. thank you for your thoughts. you can see the full interview in a bbc newsnight special on bbc 2, and here on the news channel tonight at 9pm and also on the iplayer. firefighters 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 8.30pm last night. it took 200 firefighters nine hours to put the fire out, which had spread to every floor.
two people were treated by paramedics. we will go live to bolton. we just watching the prime minister who just got into that car and you can see the row of firefighters behind that area that was cordoned off by the police. the prime minister hasjust arrived in bolton to speak some of the firefighters who had been attending that fire. he had already expressed his concern for what had happened overnight in bolton via a tweet. there was some speculation that he might head to the scene. it would appear that he has just done that, having been campaigning in the east midlands a little bit earlier on today. that was the prime minister getting into that car that you saw moving away, having spoken
to those firefighters. to give you a sense of the scene, we were talking about it an hour ago, you can see still a large area of the centre of bolton that has had to be cordoned off as bolton that has had to be cordoned offasa bolton that has had to be cordoned off as a result of that fire. fire engine spending many hours at that scene, a0 fire engines. and every flow of that building had been affected by that blaze —— every floor. any more we will bring it to you. in the past few moments, the mayor manchester... andy burnham visited botlon and has praised the work of the fire service there last night. here's some of what's been said at the scene, starting with the greater manchester fire service. 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. so, at the minute, we cannot confirm that everyone is accounted for. one thing that i would just like to confirm and allay any fears was that this cladding on this building was not... was not the same cladding that was on grenfell.
the building is clad in laminate, it is not flammable. we were aware of the cladding system that was on this building. there were interim measures in place, every apartment had a fire alarm and we also had an air horn within the communal areas of the building, which did sound and did alert. but i would like to pay a special thanks to kate and jade, they went around the whole building knocking on doors to encourage the students to evacuate from this building. i speak for everybody i am sure in greater manchester saying i could not be more proud of our firefighters and the other emergency services for the way in which they dealt with the situation expertly, bravely. as you may know, rescuing some people from the building itself. obviously, this was a very serious incident indeed. that was andy burnham, the mayor of greater machester and you saw others speaking after that fire in bolton. you are watching bbc news.
the headlines on bbc news... the duke of york has said he "let the side down" by staying at the home of convicted sex offenderjeffrey epstein, adding it was the "wrong thing to do". an investigation is under way into the cause of a fire at a student accommodation building in bolton after more than 200 firefighters spent nine hours putting it out. competing on climate change policies, the conservatives say they will plant 30 million trees a year by 2025 if it wins the general election but the lib dems say they can plant twice as many trees. meanwhile, leading labour and trade union figures are meeting to decide which policies will be included in the party's election manifesto. an embarrassing a—0 series whitewash for great britain's rugby league lions — well beaten in their final match against papua new guinea. a late try at sandy park gives the women is a win in the autumn
international. 0n the opening weekend of the european champions cup — bath narrowly lose to ulster. elsewhere glasgow beat sale. federer is 5—3 down in the first set. he is playing the young greek. in scotla nd he is playing the young greek. in scotland is leading cyprus. that is the sport, more in an hour. 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. earlier i spoke to our political correspondent iain watson. well, what happened straightaway when the senior labourfigures were going into this meeting behind me was there
was a demonstration here by people on the free movement issue. this is a conference policy, something which labour delegates had agreed in the autumn, notjust to maintain but extend the free movement of workers, irrespective of brexit. the decision that has to be taken today is whether that becomes a firm manifesto commitment. some people are incredibly concerned. the message it may send out to voters about immigration. 0ne union delegate said to me the word "extend" free movement is unacceptable and will not be in the final manifesto. there is a bit of a row going on in there on precisely what the wording will be, as i understand it. the approach will be an attempt to say whatever the policy on mobility of labour, there will be new policies on employment law and new regulations to try to ensure that british workers, if you like, people already in this country, are not going to be undercut by migrants. that's one of the areas they are concentrating on, but whenjeremy corbyn arrived here, he was very keen to get the debate onto the wider picture,
the bigger picture for labour, this idea that they are encouraging greater state involvement in the economy. they would say for championing the consumers and offering a radical manifesto. we're having our clause v meeting today to decide on the contents of our manifesto and it's going to be a document that will be transforming the lives of people all over this country. i'm looking forward to some really good discussions. reporter: are you expecting some tough discussions? obviously, a very positive spin from jeremy corbyn, but there are still some underlying tensions, perhaps not perhaps not big disagreements, but areas where the people around the table in their trade union senior labour figures, shadow cabinet members still have to negotiate. for example, there is a commitment at labour's conference for britain to become carbon neutral by 2030. at least one big union thinks that's
unrealistic and they want that figure taken out. what is likely to happen is that there will be some fiddling around with the drafting and it will look as though that is more of a target rather than a hard deadline. one big policy area, which still hasn't been touched or unveiled, still being discussed at the moment, is more help for women who were effectively caught out by an increase in the state pension age to 66. some of them felt they hadn't had time to plan for their retirement and there has been a campaign to make sure they get some kind of compensation. i am told there will be some wording to come out in the labour manifesto agreeing a process which would address their concerns. the snp leader nicola sturgeon has called on the scottish people to deny boris johnson the "majority he craves". speaking on the campaign trail on the east coast of scotland, she said that evidence suggests that brexit will hit the north east of scotland harder than anywhere else. 0ur news correspondent alexandra mackenzie sent this update.
nicola sturgeon has been out campaigning across the north—east of scotland. she was here in arbroath, the home of the arbroath smokie. her main message today has been about brexit. scotland voted to remain within the european union and nicola sturgeon has said today a vote for the snp is a vote against borisjohnson‘s hard brexit. in her words, a vote for the snp is a vote to stop scotland being taken out of the european union against its will. there are 13 tory mps across scotland and nicola sturgeon has said that the snp is the main challenger in all of those seats. she has said that this election is probably the most important in her lifetime. nicola sturgeon has also said, again, she would like an independence referendum in 2020. she said that scotland would be better if the power was within the hands of the scottish people. now, we are here in arbroath.
this is where the declaration of scottish independence was signed in 1320. so possibly no coincidence that nicola sturgeon was here earlier today. 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. 0ur news correspondent, danjohnson, has been on the campaign trail with the prime minister in mansfield. he sent us this update. the prime minister's been out and about on the streets of mansfield this morning, knocking on doors, pushing leaflets through letter boxes, trying to get that message across about getting brexit done — is the big slogan down the side of the bus. perhaps not the place you'd expect to see a conservative prime minister — mansfield a former mining town, formerly a very industrial area. but in 2017, for the first time, this seat switched from having previously always had a labour mp to having a conservative mp,
ben bradley, who is seeking re—election here. this is a sign that the conservatives are really intent on at least defending the gains that they made at the last election and this is one of those seats they would have feared may have possibly switched back to labour. so now that the brexit party has stood aside in seats like this, it's for borisjohnson and the conservatives to really campaign hard to try to stop those seats from switching back to labour or indeed moving in any other direction. now, the prime minister's supposed to be moving on to a farm on the edge of mansfield here to talk about his environmental policies. he is announcing today that he will plant more than 30 million trees over the next five years, if he is still prime minister. that's something that's really come into the election campaign agenda over the first week or so, with jeremy corbyn saying that his policies are all about decarbonising our economy. and the liberal democrats today saying they would plant 60 million trees. we've already got the game of one—upmanship, trying to get one ahead of each other. and it's an interesting policy, because i spent half of the week up to my knees in flood water in south yorkshire and a lot of people there, as well as talking about flood defences, have talked about how important it is that further up river catchments
there is a tree planting, there is more vegetation, to try to hold rainwater, so that it doesn't all flow down the rivers and flood and it's an interesting policy, because i spent half of the week up to my knees in flood water in south yorkshire and a lot of people there, as well as talking about flood defences, have talked about how important it is that further up river catchments there is a tree planting, there is more vegetation, to try to hold rainwater, so that it doesn't all flow down the rivers and flood the lower—lying areas. now, i don't think this policy has just been announced in response to that, but it's certainly something that those people who have been affected by flooding this week will see as a positive. if indeed it is able to be achieved over the next five years. but, of course, as we've seen time and time again with environmental targets, they are promised and then probably not delivered. very hard to deliver on some of these environmental promises. one thing that might disrupt today's campaign agenda is this serious fire in bolton and the prime minister has tweeted a message this morning, saying his thoughts are with all those affected by that fire, that he is thankful to the emergency services for the brave response and that he's in touch with the chief fire officer,
making sure they have everything they need. we're just waiting to see what impact that might have on the prime minister's plans later today. as you saw, the prime minister has since been to bolton. the leader of the liberal democrats jo swinson is also out campaigning today. earlier, i spoke to our news correspondentjon donnison about what she had been doing. well, jo swinson is targeting labour seats in london that she believes the liberal democrats can pick up from them. she's here with her big yellow, or, to my mind, her big orange bus. this morning, she's also been talking about planting trees, 60 million trees a year from 2025, so double what the conservatives are pledging. that would mean some million hectares more of forest by 20a5. she planted a tree herself up in hampstead this morning. and she was asked whether the project wasn't perhaps a little too ambitious.
no, i think we need to be ambitious, first of all. we are facing a climate emergency. i was met this morning by a group of children and this is about their future. and we need to make sure that we do everything that we can to avert that disaster — to protect our planet for their future. planting trees is one of the best things we can do. it's good for air quality, it's good for our mental health, we all like being around trees, and, most importantly, it is good because trees absorb carbon dioxide emissions. and so they are a crucial part for how we get to a net zero carbon. what liberal democrats are proposing by planting 60 million trees a year, it's actually ambitious, but it takes us back to being a bit more ambitious than what we were managing to do at the end of 1980s, when we were planting 30,000 hectares roughly every single year. and we can get back to that and we can do more, and we should be doing more because of the threat that we face. there's no room here for half measures, when we're talking about protecting our
children's future. you hinted at this a moment ago, but what is the wider liberal democrat approach in london going to be here? well, this afternoon, jo swinson is in bermondsey. she has been at a pizza restaurant, an italian restaurant, and she has been speaking to eu citizens, some 3 million of them living in the uk, and she has been talking to them about their concerns, about the uncertainty caused by brexit and, of course, the lib dems pitching themselves very much as the party of remain. but it is interesting, if you look at the seat where we were this morning, hampstead and kilburn, in 2017, the lib dems got only 7% of the vote. but they are targeting that, believing they can take it off labour because in those areas, they did vote very heavily remain in the referendum. in camden as high as 75% of people voted remain. they believe that by pitching themselves as the party of remain, they can win seats such as that of the labour party.
joining me now isjonathan bartley, the co—leader of the green party. good afternoon. as other parties talk green issues, does this encourage you or do you look at it and say this is not nearly enough? it is encouraging. we are setting the agenda in the election, that is what we feel, this has got to be the climate election. but it isn't nearly enough. it's notjust about a bidding war over the number of trees! we would obviously go further, we would plant 700 million, that has been planned in our ma nifesto for that has been planned in our manifesto for a long time. but it is also about what you don't do. if, as jo swinson said, we have to do everything possible to tackle the climate emergency, why are the three big parties going ahead and ploughing ahead with hs2 which will threaten ancient woodlands. we don't just have a climate crisis, we have an ecological crisis. this
biodiversity can't just an ecological crisis. this biodiversity can'tjust be restored by planting a few more trees, this ta kes by planting a few more trees, this takes decades, hundreds of years, to develop. we are in the midst of a sixth mass distinction with 200 species every day being lost to us. we have to make the right choices and right decisions. just by throwing a few saplings across the country, we won't solve this. it's more than a few but anyway. country, we won't solve this. it's more than a few but anywaym country, we won't solve this. it's more than a few but anyway. it is more than a few but anyway. it is more than a few. you are critical of the three main parties, including the three main parties, including the liberal democrats, with whom you are prepared to do deals. doesn't that die loot that comment that you've just that die loot that comment that you'vejust made? that die loot that comment that you've just made? we are very different party. -- doesn't that die loot. we work with parties where there is common ground and we are working with the liberal democrats because there is an issue bigger than brexit which is tackling the climate emergency. by staying in europe we have those in of protections and we can stay with our neighbours in the paris climate emergency. but if the climate matters more, why step aside in seats where brexit matters more?
because our broken system. if we have a hung parliament, every green party member in the house of commons will make a huge difference, holding the feet to the sire of all the three big parties. you have one green mp now, do you think you will have more after the 12th of december? that is what we are campaigning to do. we are campaigning to do. we are campaigning very hard in the european referendum where we doubled our number of meps, got 2 million votes, we came first and second in constituencies around the country and those are the areas we are targeting. thank you very much. now it's time for a look at the weather with stav danaos. hello, there, it's been rather cloudy across much of the country today. we've seen some glimmers of sunshine here and there, but as we head through this evening and overnight, we'll hold on to a lot of cloud, this weather front bringing increasing showers, clouds in scotland and northern ireland. so not quite as cold here as it was the previous night. this weak weather front bringing patchy rain to central, northern england and wales and the far south west. where you hold on to the cloud,