Wednesday 20 November 2019 6:00 pm

Inmarsat and BT cut ties with Prince Andrew over Epstein friendship

Inmarsat and BT have become the latest organisations to cut ties with the Duke of York in light of questions about his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

A source close to Inmarsat confirmed to City A.M. that the satellite company had withdrawn its sponsorship.

In a statement, BT said that they would no longer work with skills training company Idea, of which Prince Andrew is a patron.

Read more: Standard Chartered ditches support of Pitch@Palace as corporate firms abandon duke

A spokesperson for BT said: “iDEA is a community interest company with its own independent governance and board.

“We have been working with the company since its launch in 2017 and our dealings have been with its executive directors not its patron, the Duke of York. 

As a leading provider of online digital skills training, iDEA was a natural partner for our new Skills for Tomorrow programme. However in light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage.”

This evening the Duke of York issued a statement saying that he was stepping back from public duties for the foreseeable future.

He added: “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with [Epstein] has become a major distraction to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support.”

Yesterday three more firms, including banking giant Standard Chartered, joined KPMG in ending their association with the embattled prince.

A spokesman for Standard Chartered confirmed: “We won’t be renewing the sponsorship when it ends in February.”

Communications conference Advertising Week Europe and tech company Gravity Road also stepped away.

Pitch@Palace, which was set up in 2014, aims to connect entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses with potential supporters, including chief executives and investors.

Astrazeneca, another sponsor of the programme, said: “Our three-year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is currently being reviewed.”

Insurance firm Aon denied any connection with the scheme, saying that the listing of the firm as a partner was an error. 

The company said it had asked for its logo to be removed from the initiative’s website. The page which showed corporate sponsors has been taken down.

According to reports, the English National Ballet (ENB) had also joined the growing list of organisations to rethink their relationship.

An ENB source told the Times:

“Everyone is hoping that it can be resolved without requiring collective discussion.

“But at some point it will require that discussion if he does not stand down. The trouble is he has a thick skin and I am sure he would be reluctant to.”

A spokesperson for the ENB said: “The matter of English National Ballet’s patronage is being discussed by its trustees. We have no further comment at this time.

A number of universities have also put their involvements with the Duke under review.

Read more: Corporate sponsors look to desert Prince Andrew after disastrous Epstein interview

London Metropolitan, which said it opposed all forms of discrimination, abuse, and human trafficking, will address the issue of Andrew’s patronage at its next board meeting on 26 November.

Huddersfield University said it would liaise with its students, who yesterday voted in favour of removing the Duke as the institution’s chancellor.

Four Australian universities connected with Pitch@Palace Global also ended their association.

Main image credit: Getty