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Norfolk air base at centre of storm over the Duke of York and the paedophile

PUBLISHED: 15:47 10 March 2011

RAF Marham

RAF Marham

Archant © 2010

The Duke of York's friendship with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein has come under further scrutiny after it was reported the convicted paedophile landed his private jet at a Norfolk base during a visit to Sandringham.

He is facing mounting questions over his links with Epstein who was sentenced to 18 months in prison in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution.

According to flight logs, Epstein’s Gulfstream flew in to RAF Marham on December 7 2000 with the billionaire and, flight logs suggest, friend Ghislaine Maxwell on board.

Epstein and Miss Maxwell are reported to have stayed at Sandringham as the Duke’s guests, before leaving the country two days later on the same aircraft from Norwich International Airport.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said civilian aircraft did not require special privileges to land at RAF bases.

She said: “Anyone with a privately registered aircraft can apply to land at RAF bases, but they would be subject to the appropriate fees, such as landing costs.

“Privately registered aircraft are routinely granted permission to land at RAF bases.

“There are procedures in place guiding this practice.”

A spokesman for Buckingham Palace declined to comment.

The Duke has been the UK’s Special Representative for International Trade and Investment since 2001, travelling around the world and at home promoting Britain’s business interests. But there have been some complaints about the lavish nature of his official foreign trips.

He has already received the backing of the prime minister as well as chancellor George Osborne. He has been carrying out his public engagements as usual this week.

Conservative MP Nicholas Soames, a friend of Andrew, said: “This job that he does, he does very well. Britain is lucky to have him. The work he’s done in emerging markets, the Middle East and Asia shows he works extremely hard.”

It has been alleged that the Duke’s friend, Ghislaine Maxwell, was on board Epstein’s Gulfstream which flew in to RAF Marham on December 7 2000, and the Telegraph published flight logs which indicate she was on the plane.

Epstein and Miss Maxwell are reported to have stayed at Sandringham as the Duke of York’s guests, before leaving the country two days later on the same aircraft from Norwich International Airport.

But Miss Maxwell denies the allegations, saying they are “entirely false”.

A statement said letters sent by Miss Maxwell’s legal representatives to certain newspapers have been ignored, and she is taking legal action.

She said: “I understand newspapers need stories to sell copies. It is well known that certain newspapers live by the adage ‘Why let the truth get in the way of a good story?’

“However, the allegations made against me are abhorrent and entirely untrue and I ask that they stop.”

She added: “A number of newspapers have shown a complete lack of accuracy in their reporting of this story and a failure to carry out the most elementary investigation or any real due diligence.

“I am now taking action to clear my name.”

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