No way Andrew photo fake: photographer

Prince Andrew has cast doubt on the photo, claiming he's "not one to hug" in public

The freelance photographer who first copied the controversial image appearing to show the Duke of York with his arm around his accuser Virginia Giuffre says the photo is genuine.

Michael Thomas told BBC Panorama he found the original in 2011 among a bundle of 20 photos that Giuffre handed him from her travels with Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Andrew has questioned the validity of the image, which shows him with Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, inside what is said to be the house of British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell in Belgravia, London.

Michael Thomas told the program: "It wasn't like she pulled the photo of Prince Andrew out, it was just in amongst the rest of them.

"These were 5x7 photos that looked like they had come from Boots the chemist, nothing more complicated than that. They were just typical teenage snaps.

"There's no way that photo is fake."

Panorama also reported an affidavit from Tony Figueroa, who dated Virginia Giuffre in 2001, which the program said that he saw the picture of the prince and the teenager back then and Virginia Giuffre had told him she had been forced to have sex with the prince.

The duke has said he has "no recollection" of meeting her and cast doubt on the picture, claiming he is "not one to hug" or "display affection" in public.

In an interview with BBC Newsnight in November, Andrew said while he recognises himself in the picture with Giuffre, he claimed it is not possible to prove whether the image had been faked.

He also claimed the picture could not have been taken in London as he was in his "travelling clothes".

Asked by presenter Emily Maitlis if the picture had been faked, Andrew said: "From the investigations that we've done, you can't prove whether or not that photograph is faked or not because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph."

Giuffre insisted to Panorama the photo was "authentic" and said she gave the original to the FBI in 2011.

She told the program: "I think the world is getting sick of these ridiculous excuses. It's a real photo. I've given it to the FBI for their investigation and it's an authentic photo. There's a date on the back of it from when it was printed."

Giuffre is one of 16 women who say they were abused by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and she has previously claimed in court she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, an accusation the duke denies.