Another university severs ties with Prince Andrew after Huddersfield Student Union motion for resignation

Emily Maitlis and Prince Andrew. Credit: BBC.
Emily Maitlis and Prince Andrew. Credit: BBC.

Another university has joined the list of Australian educational organisations severing ties with the Duke of York's initiative for tech entrepreneurs, putting further pressure on the Queen's second son.

Murdoch University in Perth has ended its relationship with Pitch@Palace Australia, joining Bond University and the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) who have also terminated their association, while the University of Wollongong (UoW) is reviewing its support.

It comes after a student panel at Huddersfield University this week passed a motion to lobby Andrew to resign as its chancellor.

The Sun and the Daily Mirror reported that the duke has also cancelled a visit to flood-ravaged communities in South Yorkshire today.

Multimillion-pound businesses have also dropped links with or begun to move away from the controversial royal after the interview centring on his friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

BT has said it will only continue to work with iDEA which promotes digital skills if the award drops the Duke of York as a patron.

A spokesperson for the telecoms firm said: "We have been working with the company since its launch in 2017 and our dealings have been with its executive directors not its patron, the Duke of York.

"As a leading provider of online digital skills training, iDEA was a natural partner for our new Skills for Tomorrow programme.

"However, 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."

Andrew was accused of showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein's victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier, who took his own life while imprisoned earlier this year.

In the Newsnight interview, the duke also denied claims he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein's victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was under age.

A spokesman for Murdoch University told the PA news agency: "Murdoch University has today advised Buckingham Palace it would not continue its participation in Pitch@Palace in 2020.

"We remain committed to supporting innovators and entrepreneurs.

"However, in the current circumstances we have decided that our efforts in this area are best served through other means.

"Over the last two years, we have built strong relationships with other Western Australian supporters of innovation and entrepreneurship and look forward to working with them to offer alternative events for WA entrepreneurs."

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A Bond spokeswoman said: "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."

Pitch@Palace Australia did not respond to queries about its ongoing operation in the absence of partners.

The developments come after London Metropolitan University said it would consider the duke's role as its patron.

Asian-focused bank Standard Chartered has joined KPMG in deciding not to renew its sponsorship of the Pitch@Palace scheme.

AstraZeneca's three-year partnership with Pitch@Palace is due to expire at the end of this year and is being reviewed, and Outward Bound Trust, of which Andrew is patron, is to hold a board meeting in the next few days to discuss the matter.

Amid the unravelling of the duke's position, former home secretary Jacqui Smith made fresh claims of racism, saying Andrew made "racist comments about Arabs that were unbelievable" at a Buckingham Palace state banquet.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said in response to the claim: "HRH has undertaken a considerable amount of work in the Middle East over a period of years and has many friends from the region. He does not tolerate racism in any form."

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He added that Andrew would be continuing his role focusing on tech entrepreneurs.