The BBC has issued an apology for leading viewers to believe that attorney Alan Dershowitz was an “impartial analyst” when he was asked to comment on the verdict in British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell’s case.
BBC News did not disclose at the time that Dershowitz was one of Jeffrey Epstein’s former lawyers and that he has been accused of abuse by one of Epstein’s victims.
A jury on Wednesday found Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking and conspiracy charges such as luring teenage girls to be sexually abused by her longtime boyfriend, the late American millionaire Epstein.
Not long after that, the BBC invited Dershowitz to comment on the verdict and its meaning for litigation involving Britain’s Prince Andrew during a Wednesday broadcast interview for BBC News Live.
Dershowitz, 83, appeared from New York and was introduced as a constitutional lawyer. Criticism of his appearance hinged on his personal and professional ties to the sordid Epstein saga, though he did mention the allegations made against him by Epstein victim Virginia Giuffre, whom he fiercely criticized during the spot.
“Well, I think the most important thing, particularly for British viewers, [is that] the government was very careful who it used as witnesses [in Maxwell’s trial],” Dershowitz said during the interview, according to Variety.
“It did not use as a witness the woman who accused Prince Andrew, accused me, accused many other people because the government didn’t believe she was telling the truth. In fact, she, Virginia Giuffre, was mentioned in the trial as somebody who brought young people to Epstein for him to abuse.”
Giuffre, who has alleged that she was coerced into sexual encounters with Prince Andrew when she was 17, has also accused Dershowitz of abusing her. Dershowitz has denied the allegations and filed a defamation lawsuit against her.
The British news organization has since said that the interview wasn’t up to the BBC’s “editorial standards.”
“Last night’s interview with Alan Dershowitz after the Ghislaine Maxwell verdict did not meet the BBC’s editorial standards, as Mr. Dershowitz was not a suitable person to interview as an impartial analyst, and we did not make the relevant background clear to our audience,” the outlet said Thursday in a statement posted on Twitter. “We will look into how this happened.”
Dershowitz also appeared on Fox News to provide analysis hours after the BBC spot. The cable news network disclosed his connection to the case, introducing him as a lawyer who once represented Epstein and is currently being sued by Giuffre for defamation and is countersuing her, according to the Daily Mail. Fox also noted that he denied all wrongdoing.
The BBC said Thursday that it has launched an investigation into its interview, which was broadcast on BBC World News and on the News Channel on Wednesday, shortly after the Maxwell verdict was announced. The interview was also featured on the BBC News live page about the trial, and a short clip was played twice on Newsday on the BBC’s World Service English, but those instances gave some context about who Dershowitz is, the news organization said.
Dershowitz is a constitutional law scholar, former Harvard Law School professor and a brand-name legal commentator. He has worked on several high-profile cases, including the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995, on the defense team for disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein in 2018 and on the first impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in 2020.
In 2008, Dershowitz helped Epstein secure a cushy plea deal with federal prosecutors in Florida while Epstein was under investigation on suspicion of sexually abusing underage girls. A Miami Herald investigation a decade later ultimately led to Epstein’s arrest in July 2019 on charges of sex trafficking of minors and conspiring to commit sex trafficking of minors, as well as a number of lawsuits. Epstein died by suicide a month later in prison while awaiting trial.
Earlier this week, Prince Andrew’s lawyers argued to have Giuffre’s lawsuit against Prince Andrew thrown out on a technicality based on her residence.