November 20, 2019 / 10:54 AM / 24 days ago

UPDATE 1-BT will maintain ties with skills group if it drops Prince Andrew as patron

(Adds details, background)

LONDON, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Britain’s BT has told a company promoting digital skills it would continue working with it if it dropped Prince Andrew as a patron.

The British royal has been engulfed in a growing scandal since he gave a TV interview on Saturday to discuss his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in a U.S. prison in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.

Andrew denied an allegation that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured for him by Epstein but said he did not regret the friendship. He has also been criticised for not showing compassion for his victims.

BT, one of Britain’s oldest companies and its largest broadband provider, said it was reviewing its relationship with iDEA, a programme that helps develop digital, enterprise and employability skills. Prince Andrew, also known as the Duke of York, is the company’s patron.

“In light of recent developments we are reviewing our relationship with the organisation and hope that we might be able to work further with them, in the event of a change in their patronage.”

Several major companies have also sought to distance themselves from the British royal. Bank Standard Chartered said it would not renew its sponsorship of Andrew’s Pitch@Palace charity while AstraZeneca said its three-year partnership was under review.

In Britain, royal patronage is usually considered an honour and a boost for charities. (Reporting by Kate Holton, editing by Estelle Shirbon)

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