Australian universities ditch Prince Andrew charity after Epstein interview


Two universities have formally cut ties with an entrepreneurial program founded by the Duke of York.

Two Australian universities have ended their partnership with Prince Andrew's entrepreneurial initiative in the wake of the Duke of York's BBC interview on sexual assault allegations and links to peadophile Jeffrey Epstein. 

Queensland's Bond University and RMIT University in Melbourne have severed ties with the Pitch@Palace program founded by Prince Andrew, joining other corporate backers who have abandoned the global initiative. 

Other universities listed as "host partners" for the Australian arm of Pitch@Palace, which is designed to support and promote Australian start-ups, are reviewing any future involvement. 

Prince Andrew, Duke of York is met by the provost of Murdoch University Professor Romy Lawson (right) on arrival at Murdoch University in Perth, Wednesday, October 2, 2019. (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright) NO ARCHIVING
Prince Andrew visited Perth's Murdoch University in October.

Prince Andrew has been urged to step aside from the initiative as the fallout of his failed attempt to clear his name continues. 

In the BBC interview that aired on Sunday night, the Queen's son insisted he had "no recollection" of ever having met his accuser and claimed he was "unable to sweat" as he refuted her claim he sweated profusely during their encounter.    

A statement from Bond University said they had no formal relationship with Prince Andrew, but would end its indirect connection through the Pitch@Palace Australia organisation. 

"We have previously said any new agreement would be considered in 2020. However, in light of recent events, the university does not intend to seek any further involvement,” a university spokesperson said. 

In a statement, an RMIT spokesperson said the university's involvement with Pitch@Palace ended in October 2019.

“RMIT aims to be a place where everyone has the opportunity to shape their future and we remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring RMIT is a safe and inclusive place to work and study,” the spokesperson added. 

A series of events held across Australia concluded with a Perth function in October where the Duke of York was the guest of honour. 

University of Wollongong and Murdoch University are also rethinking their support. 

A UOW spokesperson said it was undertaking an annual review in accordance with its agreement with Pitch@Palace Australia. 

"The university remains committed to supporting entrepreneurship and small business in Australia, and its assessment will include consideration of whether Pitch@Palace remains an effective avenue to deliver that support."

Pitch@Palace Australia has been contacted for comment. 

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