Former British royal Sarah Ferguson has confirmed she accepted cash hand-outs from a convicted U.S. sex offender, insisting she now plans to return to money.
The disgraced Duchess of York hit the headlines in 2010 when the poor state of her finances were revealed amid a scandal involving her efforts to set up a meeting with her ex-husband Prince Andrew for cash.
It has since emerged she is pals with billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, but Ferguson insists she knew nothing about his sordid background when she first befriended the billionaire.
Ferguson's ex-husband also has ties to the sex offender, who was pictured with an underage masseuse at his home.
In an interview on Monday (07Mar10) in London's Evening Standard newspaper, Ferguson vowed to repay the $22,500 (£15,000) Epstein gave her so she could settle a debt.
She says, "I am just so contrite I cannot say. Whenever I can, I will repay the money and will have nothing ever to do with Jeffrey Epstein ever again."
A spokesman for Prince Andrew has already defended the embattled British royal after his alleged links to Epstein - a friend since the 1990s - were exposed.
The rep says, "There has been no suggestion of impropriety on the part of the Duke, nor should there be."
Over the weekend, British newspapers carried photographs of Andrew with his arm around a young woman who now claims to be one of Epstein's underage victims. There has been no suggestion that Andrew was involved in inappropriate relationships.
Epstein pleaded guilty to two prostitution offences in Florida in 2008, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and a further year under house arrest. Prosecutors said Epstein paid several girls younger than 18 for sexual favours during massage sessions.
Meanwhile, it's not all bad news for Ferguson - in the newspaper interview on Monday, she revealed that she had settled all of her debts.
But the connection to Epstein has been another black mark against her name for the scandal-prone duchess.
She adds, "I have made another huge error in my life in order to get debt free, but the Duke and I are a united front on all that has happened over the last few days.
"Once again, my errors have compounded and rebounded and also inadvertently impacted on the man I admire most in the world - the Duke (Andrew). He has supported me and come to my rescue again and again and there is absolutely nothing that I would not do for him."