Former Mail on Sunday Journalist Denies Role In Virginia Giuffre’s Alan Dershowitz Accusation

At the Daily Telegraph, Camilla Tominey notes some details from a transcript of a conversation between British journalist Sharon Churcher and New York publisher Tony Lyons concerning Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s allegations against Alan Dershowitz:

Ms Churcher then refers to an email Ms Roberts Giuffre sent her on May 5, 2011, also submitted in evidence, asking her to clarify the names of the men she claimed “had sent me to” during the interview to help her with a book pitch. The transcript of the email suggests Ms Churcher responded six days later, on May 11, 2011, saying: “Don’t forget Alan Dershowitz. JEs buddy and lawyer… We all suspect Alan is a pedo”.

Ms Churcher tells Mr Lyons she would never use the word “pedo”, adding: “I wonder about some of these emails, too, that she’s produced. Because of course you can change emails.”

Describing Prof Dershowitz as “a victim”, Ms Churcher suggests Ms Roberts Giuffre may have “confused him with this other Harvard professor” who was also friends with Epstein.

Roberts Giuffre is currently suing Alan Dershowitz in New York for defamation; the transcript has been filed by Dershowitz as part of his defence, and can be accessed here. Lyons has published books by Dershowitz, and Churcher had come to his office to discuss a book proposal of her own. She was unaware that Lyons was recording their exchange.

The 2011 email exchange between Churcher and Roberts Giuffre was published last year. Roberts Guiffre was attempting to put together a memoir, and she had emailed Churcher asking “if you have any information on you from when you and I were doing interviews about the J.E. story”, particularly as regards names of “pedo’s” (sic) “that J.E. sent me to”.

Churcher’s reply, in fuller detail:

Don’t forget Alan Dershowitz… J.E.’s buddy and lawyer… good name for your pitch as he repped Claus von Bulow and a movie was made about that case… title was Reversal of Fortune. We all suspect Alan is a pedo and tho no proof of that, you probably met him when he was hanging out with JE.

As I noted at the time, “You probably met him” indicates that this is a name that Churcher is speculatively proposing, rather than someone Roberts Guiffre had herself previously named to her. Even though this is Churcher providing informal advice rather than working on a new story, the implications of a journalist advising a source about whom they might derive benefit from accusing are troubling.

The fuller exchange is important additional context for Churcher’s explanation to Lyons. As regards the term “pedo”, Churcher tells Lyons “I’ve never heard the word”, but it appears that Roberts Giuffre herself used it when she emailed Churcher. Therefore Churcher was aware of the word, and even if it’s not part of her usual vocabulary it would be natural to adopt the terminology of her correspondent. The 2011 reply to Roberts Guiffre and the conversation with Lyons also both include mention of Dershowitz’s representation of Claus von Bülow.

Churcher goes on to suggest that the allegation against Dershowitz had been made up by “Brad Edwards and his team”, and that “If I were Alan, I wouldn’t bother so much with it”.

As regards Churcher’s claim that it is possible to “change emails”, she also tells Lyons “you can edit emails. I wanted to try it, and you can do it”. It’s not clear what she is getting at here – certainly, it’s possible to edit the text of an email if you are forwarding it to someone else, because the text then becomes part of a new email. But the original remains unchanged. And why doesn’t she have a copy of what she wrote in her “Sent” folder? An alternative is that the email was completely fabricated, which Churcher hints at by saying “I’m not positive I remember this email”.

The interviews between Churcher and Roberts Guiffre formed the basis for the 2011 Mail on Sunday splash “Prince Andrew and the 17-year-old girl his sex offender friend flew to Britain to meet him“, which became the focus of renewed interest last year. According to Churcher:

It was quite a falling out with them after I wrote that story because they are part of the British establishment, and they ran it without thinking about the fact that the editor-in-chief is a friend of the royal family’s. I got laid off.

This would appear to be a reference to Geordie Greig, who is related to royal courtiers. However, Greig did not become editor of the MoS until 2012, some months after Churcher’s article was published.

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