Emily Maitlis reveals Prince Andrew was PLEASED with car crash 2019 interview


Former Newsnight host Emily Maitlis has revealed a ‘chatty’ Prince Andrew thought his infamous 2019 car crash interview with the BBC star went positively despite him having to step back from royal duties just days later.

The journalist, 51, made the stunning admission in an interview with the Times in which the ‘very pleased’ Duke is said to have been ‘unaware’ that the grilling he received over his friendship with paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein would later see him exiled from public life. 

Maitlis, who pulls no punches in her comments on Prince Andrew, her former employer and the future of journalism, shared how not even her parents were aware of the fact she had landed the interview of the decade.

A source close to Prince Andrew is said to have remarked before the now-notorious interview was aired: ‘He [Andrew] went on one of his “straightforward shooting weekends” and told everyone he was happy.’

Buckingham Palace, who did not lodge any official complaint in the wake of what turned out to be a devastating interview, are understood to have described the discussion as ‘firm but fair’.

Maitlis, who last week caused uproar at the BBC for her comments over an ‘active’ Conservative party agent infiltrating the corporation, laid into her former employer again for perceived ‘self-censorship’.

‘I’ve always felt strongly that we have a real responsibility in those big positions of broadcasting to tackle our subjects robustly without fear of offending or upsetting those in power’, she explained.

‘It’s important to me to be able to do that properly, rather than self-censor all the time, and I increasingly found I couldn’t.’

She added: ‘The BBC management thinks: “Blimey, we’ve got to be really careful of what we say or they’ll take away our funding.” 

‘But I’d argue the opposite, that if we’re not doing our job properly, holding the government to account, we don’t deserve to ask the public to give us money.’

A BBC spokesperson told MailOnline: ‘The BBC places the highest value on due impartiality and accuracy and we apply these principles to our reporting on all issues.’

Former Newsnight host Emily Maitlis has revealed a 'chatty' Prince Andrew thought his infamous 2019 car crash interview with the BBC star went positively despite him having to step back from royal duties just days later

Former Newsnight host Emily Maitlis has revealed a ‘chatty’ Prince Andrew thought his infamous 2019 car crash interview with the BBC star went positively despite him having to step back from royal duties just days later

Maitlis, who pulls no punches in her comments on Prince Andrew, her former employer and the future of journalism, shared how not even her parents were aware of the fact she had landed the interview of the decade. She is pictured above at the Edinburgh TV Festival

Maitlis, who pulls no punches in her comments on Prince Andrew, her former employer and the future of journalism, shared how not even her parents were aware of the fact she had landed the interview of the decade. She is pictured above at the Edinburgh TV Festival

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis is pictured ahead of the now infamous interview Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace in November of 2019

Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis is pictured ahead of the now infamous interview Prince Andrew at Buckingham Palace in November of 2019

Emily Maitlis’ shares her thoughts on ‘self-censorship’ at the BBC, the debate over balance and the Conservatives

On her tenure at the BBC:

‘The last thing I want to do is join the army of BBC critics, because I have had the most phenomenal two decades there. 

‘I felt a tiny bit grubby the day I said I was leaving the BBC as it was my home, there were people I adored and I couldn’t tell them all before the news broke. 

‘Inevitably, the BBC is the lightning rod for anything that any government in power doesn’t like, but I think the attacks have intensified too far – we have a government that no longer sees the point of public-sector broadcasting.’ 

On self-censorship and when she realised her BBC career was coming to an end:

‘On a practical level, there were projects I couldn’t just do. I kept having to say, “I’ll ask, but it’s probably a no.”

‘I also didn’t want to stay if it meant being less good at my job. I’ve always felt strongly that we have a real responsibility in those big positions of broadcasting to tackle our subjects robustly without fear of offending or upsetting those in power. 

‘It’s important to me to be able to do that properly, rather than self-censor all the time, and I increasingly found I couldn’t.’

On the need for balance at the national broadcaster:

‘Balance is a word we always used at the BBC but balance is complicated. 

‘If it takes me five minutes to find ten economists who all think Brexit is a terrible idea, but five hours to find an economist who says it will be absolutely brilliant, then having one on each side isn’t balanced. 

‘If we don’t show our workings to the audience and tell them how difficult it was to get an alternative view, we are not being honest.’

On the future of journalism:

‘I think politics has altered fundamentally and journalism and broadcasting in particular have not yet caught up.

‘We haven’t realised that when people say fake news they are trying to disorientate you and demean your work, so they can then ignore any scrutiny you put them under. It’s a game that the politicians are playing that the BBC, in particular, doesn’t understand.’ 

Maitlis was elevated to broadcasting royalty after grilling the Duke at Buckingham Palace in 2019 over his friendship with convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The interview later went on to win the scoop of the year at the Royal Television Society Awards in 2020. 

She revealed she thought the Prince had ‘behaved rather well’ both during and after their talk.

‘He had given us this hour in the palace and was willing to talk about stuff. Most politicians now won’t even talk about their own policies. So at least he had guts’. 

Later, Prince Andrew politely gave the journalist a guided tour of the palace – pointing out where Queen Elizabeth was and promising to show her around again during a subsequent trip.

The interview with the Duke at Buckingham Palace was widely viewed as disastrous for the Prince, and ultimately led to him stepping down as a senior member of the royal family.

The discussion, in which Andrew made a series of claims – including insisting he couldn’t have been with Miss Giuffre at the time of some of her allegations because he was dining at Pizza Express in Woking, and that a medical condition left him unable to sweat – is widely acknowledged to have embarrassed the royals.

Ms Maitlis questioned him about his friendship with Epstein, his long visits to his home in the US even after he had been arrested, and multiple other related issues including that Virgina Guiffre was forced to have sex with him.

He denied claims that he met Virgina Guiffre, who says she was a victim of sex-trafficking by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Maitlis later said: ‘A good friend of Prince Charles said: “Don’t worry, you won’t be put in the Tower.” I think they may have thought I had done what had to be done. I don’t feel guilty that he resigned from his royal roles four days later.”

But Maitlis also revealed that before her interview hit global headlines, there had been an extremely close circle of people who knew it had even taken place.

Not even her parents were told of its existence ahead of the talk airing on BBC One. ‘Almost no one knew except the Queen’, she explains.

Maitlis joined the BBC in 2001 and presented Newsnight from 2006 until earlier this year when she left the broadcaster for rival media group Global. 

She is no stranger to controversy herself, having been at the centre of a row after BBC chiefs decided she had breached impartiality rules in her broadcast about Boris Johnson‘s then chief adviser in 2020.

She had introduced Newsnight’s coverage by saying that the public ‘feel like fools’ for following lockdown rules only for Mr Cummings to ‘flout’ them by driving 260 miles from his home to County Durham. 

Her comments come just days after the former Newsnight host faced a huge backlash after she claimed an ‘active agent’ of the Tory party had breached the BBC’s management.

Last week, Maitlis, who left the BBC this year to join media group Global, told the Edinburgh TV Festival that the corporation had ‘sought to pacify’ No 10 by issuing an apology ‘within hours’.

She asked whether the BBC was ‘perhaps sending a message of reassurance directly to the Government.’

But in her own speech at the event today, the BBC’s Chief Content Officer Charlotte Moore insisted that ‘in no way was there any influence from the Government or the board’ on the BBC over its decision to rebuke Maitlis. 

She added: ‘As we have made clear previously in relation to Newsnight we did not take action as a result of any pressure from Number 10 or Government and to suggest otherwise is wrong.’ 

A long history of impartiality rows  

Maitlis has been involved in a series of impartiality scandals during her time at the BBC. 

2020 – Maitlis introduced Newsnight’s coverage of the Cummings controversy with a highly-critical speech in which she said the public ‘feel like fools’ and accusing Boris Johnson of showing ‘blind loyalty’.

The BBC received more than 40,000 complaints in two days about the broadcast – both from those angry at her comments and those annoyed at the BBC’s decision to say it had broken rules. 

2021 –Maitlis was reprimanded by the broadcaster after she shared a Twitter post by Piers Morgan about the pandemic which it described as ‘clearly controversial’.

The post said: ‘If failing to quarantine properly is punishable by 10yrs in prison, what is the punishment for failing to properly protect the country from a pandemic?’

2022 – Maitlis apologised for retweeting a message criticising the ‘sheer tawdry Trumpian shabbiness’ of the Government’s response to the Downing Street parties. 

The Newsnight presenter, 51, retweeted a post by former Tory Cabinet minister Rory Stewart, in which he said ‘it is difficult to see how much more of this the party or our political system can survive’.

The row erupted in 2020 after Maitlis introduced the programme’s coverage of the Cummings controversy with a highly-critical speech, in which she said the public ‘feel like fools’ and accusing Boris Johnson of showing ‘blind loyalty’.

The BBC received more than 40,000 complaints in two days about the broadcast – both from those angry at her comments and those annoyed at the BBC’s decision to say it had broken rules. 

The presenter said the row had ‘got way more attention than in truth it ever deserved’ and was neither the best or worst opening she had ever done.  

Focusing on the speed of the BBC’s response to Government, she said: ‘Why had the BBC immediately and publicly sought to confirm the Government spokesman’s opinion? Without any kind of due process? 

‘It makes no sense for an organisation that is admirably, famously rigorous about procedure – unless it was perhaps sending a message of reassurance directly to the Government itself?’

But she said Cummings had actually contacted her directly the same evening it aired apparently to offer his ‘wry support’. 

When Maitlis quit the BBC earlier this year insiders had said she had decided to leave because she was ‘frustrated’ at being repeatedly ‘ticked off’ by bosses. 

She took a swipe at the BBC board and singled out member Sir Robbie Gibb – Theresa May’s former director of communications – describing him as ‘another active agent of the Conservative party’.  

A BBC spokesman said: ‘The BBC places the highest value on due impartiality and accuracy and we apply these principles to our reporting on all issues. 

‘As we have made clear previously in relation to Newsnight we did not take action as a result of any pressure from Number 10 or Government and to suggest otherwise is wrong. 

‘The BBC found the programme breached its editorial standards and that decision still stands.’   

Maitlis, 51, who left the BBC this year to join media group Global, told the Edinburgh TV Festival that the BBC had 'sought to pacify' No 10 by issuing an apology 'within hours'

Maitlis, 51, who left the BBC this year to join media group Global, told the Edinburgh TV Festival that the BBC had ‘sought to pacify’ No 10 by issuing an apology ‘within hours’

Former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis (pictured) accused the BBC of caving in too quickly to Government complaints over her controversial monologue about Dominic Cummings

Former Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis (pictured) accused the BBC of caving in too quickly to Government complaints over her controversial monologue about Dominic Cummings

Maitlis introduced Newsnight's coverage of the Cummings controversy with a highly-critical speech in which she said the public 'feel like fools' and accusing Boris Johnson of showing 'blind loyalty'

Maitlis introduced Newsnight’s coverage of the Cummings controversy with a highly-critical speech in which she said the public ‘feel like fools’ and accusing Boris Johnson of showing ‘blind loyalty’



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