SARAH Ferguson was threatened with legal action by Jeffrey Epstein after she called him a paedo, reports claim.
The Duchess of York spoke out against the disgraced financier in 2011 after it emerged she had accepted £15,000 from Epstein to pay her debts.
Prince Andrew is pictured with Jeffrey Epstein in New York in 2010[/caption]
After the revelation sparked an outcry, Fergie apologised for her “error of judgement” in a statement in which she declared: “I abhor paedophilia”.
Ferguson admitted that Epstein, who was jailed in 2008 for soliciting a 14-year-old girl for prostitution, paid £15,000 to her former personal assistant to cover unpaid wages.
She told the Evening Standard: “I deeply regret Jeffrey Epstein became involved in any way with me.
“I abhor paedophilia and any sexual abuse of children and know that this was a gigantic error of judgment on my behalf.
“I am just so contrite I cannot say. Whenever I can I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again.
“What he did was wrong and for which he was rightly jailed.”
Prince Andrew with Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2001[/caption]
In the interview, Fergie appeared to say that her ex-husband Prince Andrew handled the negotiations with Epstein on her behalf.
In a subsequent statement, however, she said Epstein made a “number of offers” directly to her.
The Daily Mail reported that Epstein was furious at her suggestion he was a paedophile and threatened to sue her.
A source said: “Epstein tried to force the duchess to release a statement retracting her suggestion that he was a paedophile which he had drafted by his PR firm.
“Epstein was very unpleasant and very aggressive. She stuck to her guns despite the pressure being put on her and refused to comply.”
The story about Fergie’s loan emerged in 2011 while the Duke was facing increased scrutiny over his links to Epstein – who killed himself in jail last month.
Epstein is understood to have hired spin doctor Michael Sitrick, 72, to handle the fallout over a snap of him and the Duke of York in New York’s Central Park.
It was taken in 2011 — after Epstein left jail for procuring an under-age girl for prostitution.
Court records show that Sitrick then made contact with PR exec Mark Bolland, the ex-deputy private secretary to Andrew’s brother Prince Charles.
Lawyer Paul Tweed, a reputation specialist still in contact with Andrew, was also brought in to help.
Sitrick’s involvement was unearthed from a 2013 legal dispute between his firm and Epstein over an unpaid bill.
A judge later ruled in the firm’s favour.
There is no allegation that Sitrick, Bolland or Tweed did anything wrong.
Prince Andrew has faced continued scrutiny over his relationship with Epstein, who hanged himself on August 10 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges.
The financier’s alleged sex slave Virginia Roberts claims she had sex with the prince aged 17 – which he strongly denies.
Ms Roberts, 36, who now uses the surname Giuffre, had her claims against the royal thrown out by a judge who deemed them “immaterial” to her defamation case against “madam” Ghislaine Maxwell.
Prince Andrew released a statement condemning his former pal, while Buckingham Palace said the Duke of York would help authorities in any investigations.
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“Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue,” a spokesman for Buckingham Palace said:
“It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts.
“Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.”
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