Prince Andrew is swimming in a sea of allegations over his links with Jeffrey Epstein and how much he knew about the millionaire paedophile. Escaping the media glare with a holiday to Sotogrande, one of the most luxurious resorts in Europe, might seem like a fitting way for a Prince to limit the attention around this mess, but it only highlights his arrogance and contempt for the public, who pay for his bachelor lifestyle.

Epstein, 66, who was awaiting trial on child sex trafficking charges when he took his own life in jail in Manhatten on August 10, may no longer be around to give an account of his relationship with Andrew, but big questions remain over why the pair were ever friends at all and particularly after Epstein’s conviction for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution.

Throughout the saga, which shows no signs of abating and seems is only going to get more uncomfortable for the Prince, Buckingham Palace has strenuously denied any allegations of wrongdoing linked to Andrew’s relationship with Epstein. But that’s only the half of it. Where was his judgement in keeping company with a criminal such as Epstein? And does Buckingham Palace and indeed the Prince, in light of his most recent public statement into the affair, really think we are all that stupid and downright gullible to believe he is “appalled” by Epstein’s “alleged crimes”? Why only now? Why not in 2008, when Epstein was jailed for 18 months? It’s not even close to good enough to say this was merely a “mistake”.

Andrew, 59, was first named in US court documents in 2015, when Virginia Roberts, now Guiffre alleged he had sexual encounters in 2001 with her when she was 17 and one of Epstein’s masseurs. Andrew has always strongly denied the claims and the judge ruled they were “immaterial and impertinent”.

Then earlier this month a video emerged showing Andrew waving off a young woman from the doorway of Epstein’s New York home, in 2010, two years after the disgraced billionaire financier was convicted of soliciting a minor for prostitution and was a registered sex offender.

In a statement issued last weekend he said he did not “see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort” that led to Epstein’s conviction in 2008.

“I have said previously that it was a mistake and an error to see him after his release in 2010 and I can only reiterate my regret that I was mistaken to think that what I thought I knew of him was evidently not the real person, given what we now know.

“I have tremendous sympathy for all those affected by his actions and behaviour.

The statement went on: “This is a difficult time for everyone involved and I am at a loss to be able to understand or explain Mr Epstein’s lifestyle. I deplore the exploitation of any human being and would not condone, participate in, or encourage any such behaviour.”

Does Andrew really expect us to believe that despite all of the times he visited Epstein at his various properties and flew on his private jet that he didn’t see or hear anything related to his criminal activities? It’s not the first time members of the Royal Family have shown utter contempt for the public but this is taking the biscuit.

The statement is arrogant and pitiful and as much as Buckingham Palace might wish it would all just go away, it cannot be allowed.

Even if Andrew had no knowledge of what crimes his friend had been involved in previously, there is no excuse for failing to dump the friendship, or whatever it was, following Epstein’s 2008 conviction. At this point, he didn’t even need a detailed background check because Epstein was all over the news. In fact, the New York Post famously printed a photograph of the pair walking together after Epstein’s release from jail with the headline ‘The Prince and the Perv’. It marked the end of Andrew’s job as UK trade ambassador, but, curiously, not his friendship with Epstein.

The allegations continue to swirl and we may never know the truth but if Andrew really does care about the victims, young girls who were caught up in Epstein’s activities, at the very least, he owes it to them to leave out the denials and just go to relevant authorities and tell them what he knew.