Sarah Ferguson heartbreak: How Duchess sought Epstein’s help amid debt crisis

Sarah Ferguson heartbreak: How Duchess sought Epstein's help amid debt crisis

Sarah Ferguson – otherwise known as Fergie – has remained close to her ex-husband Prince Andrew despite the pair’s 1996 divorce. In the recent weeks following the Prince’s car-crash BBC Newsnight interview about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, and his subsequent resignation from royal duties, the Duchess has been vocal about her support for her ex, who she called “a giant of a principled man”. However, the Duchess of York has had to weather her own crisis surrounding the convicted sex offender.

The disgraced financier, who died in August this year, helped Fergie out with her debts, in a transaction that came to light 2011 – although it remains unclear exactly when the financial deal took place.

Epstein pleaded guilty to two felony prostitution charges, including one count of soliciting an underage prostitute in 2008 and was released from prison in July 2010.

The Evening Standard reported in 2011 how the Duchess owed former personal assistant Johnny O’Sullivan £78,000 in unpaid salary, however Epstein negotiated the sum down to only £15,000, which he paid Mr O’Sullivan himself.

The newspaper reported: “Epstein had personally offered to help the Duchess as he knew that Mr O’Sullivan was insisting his money was paid in full, which meant the rest of the debt could not be restructured.”

The Duchess issued a contrite statement over accepting financial help from Epstein (Image: Getty)

Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew stepped down as special trade envoy in 2011 following his connection to Epstein coming to light (Image: Getty)

The Duchess of York came away from her 1996 divorce from the prince in an estimated £5million-worth of debt, which the Queen refused to pay off as part of the divorce deal.

Since then, Fergie is estimated to have made £2.2million from the sales of her autobiographies and books.

It was thought that Fergie had not been in touch directly with Epstein to negotiate the debt payment, instead relying on the Duke of York to help her.

The Duchess told the Evening Standard in 2011: “The Duke sorted out my debts and he and his office have been more than marvellous.”

READ MORE: William, Kate, Harry and Meghan will suffer from Andrew resignation

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew with Princess Beatrice

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew with Princess Beatrice in 2011 (Image: Getty)

In a subsequent statement, however, she said Epstein made a “number of offers” directly to her.

A note seized by Miami Police after raiding Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion earlier this year  suggests that the Duchess had phone contact with Epstein.

The memo from January 25, 2005, at 7.15pm, is from ‘HRH Duchess of York Sarah (Fergie)’ and says ‘she is expecting your call’.

When the debt payment came to light in 2011, the Duchess released a contrite statement.

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Sarah Ferguson with Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie

Sarah Ferguson with Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie in 2011 (Image: Getty)

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell

Prince Andrew spoke about his relationships with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in the Newsnight interview (Image: Getty)

She said: “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.”

She went on: “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.

“This is the first time ever in my life, and I mean ever, that I have been debt-free. It allows me to go forward to do what I do, being a good mother, a philanthropist for children and also an author of children’s books.

“I had no idea of the string of other allegations and court cases against him and I am distraught that I should have allowed myself to get out of debt with any help from him when my judgment was clouded.”

However, after this 2011 statement, Epstein hired a team of lawyers to sue the Duchess, and was said to be particularly incensed that she had referred to him as a paedophile – even though his convictions included one for soliciting a minor.

A report in the Daily Mail states that he engaged the services of an unnamed  firm of lawyers, alongside crisis management PR firm Sitrick & Co, who advised him on how to handle the media storm surrounding his relationship with Prince Andrew.

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew

Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew together Royal Ascot this summer (Image: Getty)

Sarah Ferguson

Latest pictures of Sarah Ferguson show the Duchess in Venice (Image: Getty)

According to the newspaper, the PR firm’s files, referenced in court papers,  include a note on March 15, 2011 to ‘work on statement for Fergie’. 

Two days later, on March 17, 2011, it adds ‘revise suggested statement for Fergie’.

A source close to the Duchess told the newspaper: “Epstein tried to force the Duchess to release a…

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