Britain's Prince Andrew 'stepping back' from public duties after Epstein interview

Prince says he will step down for the 'foreseeable future'

FILE - In this Monday, April 13, 2015 file photo, Britain's Prince Andrew visits the AkzoNobel Decorative Paints facility in Slough, England. Prince Andrew's effort to put the Jeffrey Epstein scandal behind him may have instead done him irreparable harm. While aides are trying to put the best face on his widely criticized interview with the BBC, royal watchers are asking whether he can survive the public relations disaster and remain a working member of the royal family. (David Parker/Pool Photo via AP, File)
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Britain's Prince Andrew says he is immediately stepping back from public duties with Queen Elizabeth's permission.

It comes days after he gave an interview over his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and strenuously denied having been introduced to a young woman by him.

He has faced growing criticism following the interview after he failed to say he regretted his friendship with Epstein.

On Wednesday British telecoms firm BT became the latest company to cut ties with him.

The firm said it would not work with a company that counts Andrew as a patron.

Andrew said he asked to step down from public duties for the foreseeable future.

He said it had become clear to him in recent days that his association with Epstein was become a “major distraction” to the royal family’s work.

Andrew said on Wednesday that he regretted his association with Epstein and that he “deeply sympathises” with his victims.

The statement said: "It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support.

“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.

“I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure."

He added that he is willing to meet with officers as part of their investigations.

"Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required," he added.

Some charities that he has worked with as a patron have said they were reviewing their association with the prince because of his actions.

Epstein was awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, robbing his victims of a chance for their day in court.

His death on August 10 in a New York prison has been ruled a suicide.