Prince Andrew is stepping back from public duties for the “foreseeable future” over the controversy that has surrounded his friendship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The British royal released a statement on Wednesday night saying the focus on his association with the disgraced New York financier had caused “major disruption” to his family’s work. A statement by His Royal Highness The Duke of York KG. pic.twitter.com/LfMFwMyhcb— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 20, 2019He wrote: “It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support. “Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.” “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein. “His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure. “I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.” Andrew, Queen Elizabeth’s second son, denies an allegation that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl procured for him by his friend Epstein, who killed himself in a US prison in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.The scandal escalated since Andrew did an interview with BBC TV, aired on Saturday. The interview has drawn widespread criticism in the media, where many have said his explanations were unsatisfactory, while lawyers for Epstein’s victims said the prince showed little sympathy for those abused.