Prince Andrew photo no fake,says photographer who sourced it in 2011

When photographer Michael Thomas took a copy of a picture handed to him by a woman named Virginia Roberts,he never believed it would turn into a scandal still going strong a decade later.

“It’s mad. It’s crazy,” he told news siteStuff.

Prince Andrew with Virginia Giuffre,then Virginia Roberts,at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell (right) in 2001.

Prince Andrew with Virginia Giuffre,then Virginia Roberts,at the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell (right) in 2001.Supplied

But in 2011,Thomas,together withMail on Sunday reporter Sharon Churcher,was shown a photograph by Roberts (now using her married name Giuffre).

Thomas took copies of the now-infamous photo,which had been taken almost a decade earlier,showing Prince Andrew,then 41,with his arm around Giuffre at Ghislaine Maxwell’s house in London. Maxwell could be seen in the background.

The photograph had been taken by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein in 2001 using Roberts’ camera – on the same night Guiffre said she had sex with Prince Andrew,at the bidding of Epstein and Ghislaine,theDaily Mail has reported.

Prince Andrew has always denied the authenticity of the photo and Maxwell,who is serving a 20-year sentence for sex trafficking,recently said in an interview she did not believe “for a second” the photo was real.

“There has never been an original,and further,there is no photograph,” she said.

But speaking from the UK,Thomas said the photograph was definitely “not fake”,and recently helped prove it with documents he kept from that original interview.

“I’ve never gone back and looked at all my originals. I sent my photos to the paper like anybody on the job does,” he said.

“Last week I went back and found all my original files. I’d forgotten I’d photographed the back,” he said.

The back of the photograph was what helped theDaily Mail,together with a photographic expert and court witness,determine the photo was genuine.

The copies show a stamp reading:“000 #15 13Mar01 Walgreens One Hour Photo”,detailing the date,likely time and location of the photograph being developed.

The date,according to theDaily Mail,fits Giuffre’s movements around the time of the alleged meeting.

What Thomas really finds “crazy”,though,is the rumours of the photo being fake without any proof.

“Do you know of any other photo in the world with three people that have been allegedly stuck together,and it’s been published,and nobody sues the publication and says don’t print it? It’s white noise,” he said.

Despite the details shown on copies of the back of the photo,Thomas does not expect the allegations to die down.

“You can’t argue against conspiracy theories because there’s no fact there,” he said.

“At the end of the day,I copied a[real] photograph. It was not fake,” he said,adding that the details on the back all fit with the photo being genuine.

“I was a jobbing photographer and all I did was copy a photo. There’s no great genius here,” he said,but admitted the rumours were frustrating.

“It’s not nice when people come up and joke,every time it’s mentioned,‘Oh,that fake photo of yours.’ It’s annoying,but it’s gone on for so many years.

“I’d like to think this was the end of it,but it won’t be,” he says of the situation,which he’d found pretty surreal.

“I live in Arrowtown[New Zealand] with about 5000 people ... I live a very quiet life with kids,wife and a dog,” he said.

“There’s no glory in it for me. I’m over it. I don’t bring it up. Other people bring it up and I’m forced into saying something.”

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