Emily Maitlis quizzes the Duke of York at Buckingham Palace
Maitlis, 49, won widespread acclaim for the way she talked to the Duke of York about his dealings with paedophile businessman Jeffrey Epstein. But Andrew, 59, was ridiculed for the way he answered claims that he slept with 17-year-old Virginia Roberts – accusations he has denied. Epstein was found dead in his prison cell in August while awaiting trial for child sex trafficking. Andrew later agreed to be grilled about his relationship with the US financier, in an interview broadcast by the BBC on November 16.
Maitlis said she was unprepared for the furore that followed the programme, with some royal commentators even comparing it to the Edward VIII abdication crisis.
She told this week’s Radio Times: “I didn’t see it coming. It wasn’t an attempt to bring down the royals, just a chance to understand the story.
“I didn’t like people saying, ‘It’s a car crash interview,’ because I thought, ‘That’s not enticing, that’s not encouraging.’
“I don’t want people thinking that’s what happens at Newsnight.”
Emily Maitlis and the Duke of York
The interview was recorded in Buckingham Palace.
Maitlis said that, after they finished filming the whole talk, both Andrew and his Palace team thought she had done a “fair job”.
She added: “The impression I got was definitely that he had been happy with it.
“I think you have a curious duty of care towards your interviewees.”
Miss Roberts, now 35, claims she was recruited by Andrew’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell and slept with him after they partied together at London nightclub Tramp.
Andrew claimed he could not remember meeting her, and said he was at a Pizza Express in Woking, Surrey, when he was accused of being in the club.
The Queen’s son also denied her claim that he had been sweating a lot by insisting that, at the time, he could not sweat because of a medical condition.
His interviewer would not concede whether she believed his side of the story, saying: “I don’t feel that is for me, actually. It’s not my job.
“I’m not a judge, I’m not a barrister, this isn’t a court of law.”
But she did say that the Prince gave answers she “never expected to hear”.
She added that Andrew – who was panned for saying he stayed at Epstein’s New York apartment – probably “wishes he’d chosen differently or better”.