BBC will look into Alan Dershowitz appearance on Maxwell segment

On Wednesday evening, BBC viewers heard from American lawyer Alan Dershowitz about the guilty verdict in the case of Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted that day of helping billionaire Jeffrey Epstein recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage girls.

>> Aina J KhanThe New York Times
Published : 31 Dec 2021, 06:35 AM
Updated : 31 Dec 2021, 06:35 AM

What they were not apprised of was that Dershowitz had helped defend Epstein and has himself been accused of abuse by one of Epstein’s accusers — an accusation he denies.

The British broadcaster, which introduced Dershowitz as a “constitutional lawyer,” said later in a statement released on Twitter that the interview did not meet its editorial standards: “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 statement said. “We will look into how this happened.”

Dershowitz is a longtime criminal defense lawyer known for representing high-profile clients including former President Donald Trump and O.J. Simpson. His connection to Epstein became mired with personal accusations when, in 2014, Virginia Giuffre, who is among Epstein’s most prominent accusers, said in a court filing that Dershowitz was one of the Epstein friends to whom she was offered for sex.

In the BBC interview, Dershowitz said that Maxwell’s trial undermined the credibility of Giuffre and her case against Prince Andrew, whom she has also accused of sexually abusing her when she was still a minor and he was a guest of Epstein. Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, denies that claim.

Giuffre did not testify at Maxwell’s trial. And Dershowitz speculated that the prosecutors had concerns about Giuffre’s credibility.

The trial of Maxwell, the former companion to the disgraced financier Epstein and the daughter of a British media mogul, was widely seen as the courtroom reckoning that Epstein never had.

The omission of Dershowitz’s connection to the case ignited criticism online over conflict of interest. Sarah Churchwell, an American professor at the University of London, was among those weighing in.

The BBC never explained his connection to the case, Churchwell wrote in an email.

“At no point did the BBC journalist challenge Dershowitz or even mention his conflicts of interest although he himself had just raised them, more than once,” she wrote.

In a Substack newsletter published Thursday, Dershowitz defended his appearance on the news channel. “The media has repeatedly interviewed victims of Epstein’s abuse,” he wrote. “It is entirely appropriate for the media to interview victims of Giuffre’s false accusations as long as there is full disclosure and no one is misled.”

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