Prince Andrew's ex speaks out on sex claims
Prince Andrew's former girlfriend Koo Stark has spoken publicly about their relationship for the first time in over 30 years to defend the Duke of York over allegations he slept with a teenage 'sex slave.'
American born Stark dated Prince Andrew after his return from the Falklands War in 1982 when she was 26.
They were together for 18 months but the royal went on to marry Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
The actress said the sex allegations recently levelled at Prince Andrew in legal papers filed in the US by Virginia Roberts amounted to an "assassination of his character".
Ms Roberts, who is referred to in court as Jane Doe No 3, claims she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 by his financier friend Jeffrey Epstein who is a convicted sex offender.
Andrew, 54, vehemently denies the claims and Buckingham Palace has stated they are "false and without foundation".
Stark, writing in the Mail on Sunday, said her first reaction was "fury, then disbelief, at the lurid allegations being made against a man I have known well for more than 30 years".
"He was being accused of the very worst kind of behaviour. The stain on his reputation is spilling across his life like blood from a new wound," Stark wrote.
The 58-year-old, who was embroiled in a court case concerning the ownership of a £40,000 painting in 2013, said she knew "too much about the media and the law courts to allow the disgrace of an innocent man".
"That is why I have decided to now reveal some of the details of my relationship with Andrew. Most people in this country have formed their own impression of him - either good or ill. My view is clear: I believe him to be a good man," she wrote.
"I firmly believe I can help rebut, with authority, the allegations against him. I will use those details to challenge Virginia Roberts' description of a man which does not tally with the person I have known for more than half my lifetime."
The Palace did not comment on Miss Stark's intervention.
Last month a letter addressed to Andrew at Buckingham Palace asking him to take part in a two-hour interview was filed in a Florida court by lawyers acting on behalf of Ms Roberts.
In June 2013 Stark avoided going to trial after she returned an Anthonie van Borssom oil painting she was accused of stealing by a former partner.
The prosecution and defence reached an agreement for her to return oil painting, which depicts a moonlit coastal landscape, which she was alleged to have taken from the flat of Warren Walker, father of her daughter Tatiana.
Stark's lawyers said she believed the painting was hers when she took it.