Bond University cuts ties with Prince Andrew
BOND University has cut ties with Prince Andrew amid outrage over the Royal's interview in which he defended his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
In a statement, the elite Gold Coast University said their current agreement with Prince Andrew's Pitch@Palace Australia competition finished this year.
"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," the statement said.
Bond University previously hosted a Pitch@Palace event, designed to support and promote Australian start-ups.
RMIT, The University of Wollongong, Murdoch University and Bond University were all host university partners with the program which had its most recent event in Perth this year.
Bond University's announcement comes after Melbourne's RMIT University told The Courier-Mail that its involvement with the program had concluded 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," a spokesperson said.
While the University of Wollongong and Perth's Murdoch University both told The Courier-Mail they were currently "reviewing" their support Pitch@Palace event in 2020.
"The University of Wollongong is currently undertaking an annual review of its future involvement in Pitch@Palace in accordance with its agreement with Pitch@Palace Australia," a UOW spokesperson said.
"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.
"The University will reach a considered decision about its future involvement with Pitch@Palace based on the University's strategic objectives, institutional values and the program's potential for success."
The Courier-Mail can also exclusively reveal that Perth based LNG operator Woodside, has today distanced themselves from the Duke of York.
"Our sponsorship of the program was a one-off and our association has now ended," a spokeswoman said.
In the wake of the controversial interview for which the Duke of York has been widely criticised, reports emerged that heavyweight accountancy firm KPMG had made the decision at the end of October to not renew its sponsorship of the program, along with insurance company were distancing themselves from the Prince over the Epstein scandal.
Prince Andrew founded Pitch@Palace in 2014 as a global program to link entrepreneurs with key business figures, potential supporters and mentors, including CEOs.
Bond University has previously hosted the global entrepreneur competition and this year the Duke of York visited Perth, when the 2019 event was held at Perth's Murdoch University.
One of Epstein's victims, Virginia Giuffre has alleged that she met the Prince in 2001 and later had sexual intercourse with him.
But in the BBC interview, Prince Andrew said he has "no recollection of ever meeting this lady".
He said could not have been dancing with Giuffre at Tramps because he was "at home with the children" after being at "Pizza Express" in Woking with his daughter Beatrice.
He said her allegations that he was sweating were "a slight problem" because he has a medical condition preventing him from sweating.
The Duke of York also said that he had no recollection of a photograph of the two of them together being taken.
"You can't prove whether that photograph is faked or not," he said.
When asked if he had sex with Ms Giuffre on three occasions during the interview, and other allegations the Prince said "absolutely no to all of it".
The other corporate sponsors including Accor Hotels, IMB Bank, Pitch@Palace Australia were contacted by The Courier-Mail and did not respond by deadline.
And Business management consultant, Halkin Ventures declined to comment.
Prince Andrew's appearance on BBC Newsnight has been heavily criticised with reports emerging today one of his staffers resigned over the interview.
The Sunday Times reported that Jason Stein left his job at Buckingham Palace two weeks ago, after advising the Prince not to go ahead with the interview.
The Duke's remarks in the unprecedented interview have been widely criticised, with commentary suggesting the Prince showed no sympathy for Epstein's victims, many of whom were children.
The Prince has been embroiled in controversy for his friendship with Epstein, who killed himself in a New York prison cells a month after being charged with sex trafficking of minors.