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What can Prince Andrew’s ex-equerry reveal about the Duke’s time with Jeffrey Epstein?

As Equerry to the Duke of York, Major Robert Olney was more than just a useful companion on official duties when the conversation flagged.

During a visit to an arms fair in Jordan in 2002 — just months before the Gulf war and when tensions in the Middle East were running high — the Army Air Corps officer stepped in when Prince Andrew was targeted by an Iraqi delegation.

‘It’s the Iraqis, sir,’ the aide warned. To which the duke replied: ‘God, the Iraqis!’ before abruptly turning in the opposite direction. Thanks to Major Olney’s swift intervention, the episode — later described as a ‘strategic jostle’ — passed off without repercussions.

Now the ex-soldier, who left the Army as a lieutenant colonel, will need all his diplomatic skills after being called to give evidence in Prince Andrew’s sex abuse case.

Now the ex-soldier (pictured), who left the Army as a lieutenant colonel, will need all his diplomatic skills after being called to give evidence in Prince Andrew’s sex abuse case

Lawyers for the duke’s accuser, Virginia Roberts, want to question the Afghan veteran about Andrew’s visits to and from New York, and about his relationship with the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

According to court documents, this testimony must be obtained by April 29, either in person or by video conference.

Major Olney’s name appears in Epstein’s infamous ‘little black book’ of contacts and he accompanied Andrew on several high-profile trips around the globe.

All the same, the request to interview him as a witness has surprised Andrew’s team.

The reason? Because the Army Air Corps veteran, who is now head of safety and business delivery at the Civil Aviation Authority, was not employed by Andrew during the critical period when Miss Roberts — now married as Mrs Giuffre — claimed she had been abused by the prince.

Lawyers for the duke's accuser, Virginia Roberts, want to question the Afghan veteran about Andrew's visits to and from New York, and about his relationship with the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Pictured: Andrew with Epstein

Lawyers for the duke’s accuser, Virginia Roberts, want to question the Afghan veteran about Andrew’s visits to and from New York, and about his relationship with the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. Pictured: Andrew with Epstein

Files submitted by Miss Roberts’s lawyers say Mr Olney’s name appears in the entry for ‘Duke of York’ in the contacts book that belonged to Epstein. This, they say, means he ‘likely has relevant information’ about Andrew’s travel to and from Epstein’s various properties.

They added that because Andrew denied meeting or abusing Miss Roberts, such information ‘is directly relevant to a disputed fact to be adjudicated at trial’.

Mr Olney was appointed Andrew’s equerry in September 2002 — more than a year after Miss Roberts claimed she was forced to have sex with the duke when she was 17 — and remained in the post until 2004. But according to appearances in the Court Circular, he was still representing the duke at official events up until 2011.

Educated at fee-paying Wellington School in Somerset, he joined the Army after gaining a geography degree from Brunel University. At the time of Major Olney’s appointment to the Royal Household, Andrew had become UK trade ambassador.

Within days of joining the royal staff, the duke’s new equerry accompanied him on a trip to Philadelphia. A month later, the pair were in Jordan where Andrew was promoting British exports at an international arms fair. The equerry was then quoted as saying the prince was not there to meet the Iraqi contingent. Rather, ‘to promote British investment and trade in the Middle East’, Major Olney said.

Mr Olney was appointed Andrew's equerry in September 2002 — more than a year after Miss Roberts claimed she was forced to have sex with the duke when she was 17 — and remained in the post until 2004. Pictured: Andrew, Roberts and Maxwell

Mr Olney was appointed Andrew’s equerry in September 2002 — more than a year after Miss Roberts claimed she was forced to have sex with the duke when she was 17 — and remained in the post until 2004. Pictured: Andrew, Roberts and Maxwell

The British Army and British arms companies were at the fair to showcase a range of weapons. The countries who were there to buy included Syria, Sudan, Libya and Iran — but not Iraq.

Just to be clear, the then Defence Procurement Minister Lord Bach, who was part of the prince’s party, explained dryly: ‘There is a United Nations resolution that embargoes defence exports to Iraq.’

In November 2002, Major Olney was at Andrew’s side for a controversial visit to Argentina and the Falkland islands.

It emerged that during the South American leg of the trip, Andrew accepted an invitation from Swedish tycoon Johan Eliasch for a weekend in a resort near Rio de Janeiro.

While there, he boarded a speedboat with a Playboy model and other bikini-clad girls, angering critics who accused him of misguided and indulgent behaviour. Among other tasks, the then Major Olney represented the prince at a memorial service for Sir Denis Thatcher at the Guards’ Chapel in London.

The news that his former equerry (pictured) is to be questioned has come as some relief for Andrew. It was thought his daughter princess Beatrice and his ex-wife, the duchess of York, would be called to testify

The news that his former equerry (pictured) is to be questioned has come as some relief for Andrew. It was thought his daughter princess Beatrice and his ex-wife, the duchess of York, would be called to testify

After returning to the Army, he was promoted to Commander and Chief Instructor at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. His last military post was commanding officer of 6 Regiment Army Air Corps in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

Mr Olney, 50, lives with his wife, Joanna, and children in Marlow, Bucks, where he is operations manager and coach for the local rugby club.

The news that his former equerry is to be questioned has come as some relief for Andrew. It was thought his daughter princess Beatrice and his ex-wife, the duchess of York, would be called to testify.

Roberts’s lawyers also want to speak to Shukri Walker, who has claimed she saw the prince at Tramp nightclub with Virginia in 2001, though she cannot remember the date.

The duke has said he has no recollection of meeting the teenager, and claims he was at a pizza restaurant in Woking.

A source close to his team said: ‘It is mystifying why the Giuffre lawyers have alighted on the name of a woman who cannot remember the date she was in Tramp and a man who was not around at the time of the appropriate dates.’


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