Photographer who handled infamous Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre photo gives proof it’s “not fake”

prince andrew and virgina giuffre photo is genuine according to photographer who copied it
Photographer says Prince Andrew photo “not fake”Shutterstock

The photographer who handled the original image of Prince Andrew with his arm around Virginia Giuffre has spoken out and shared evidence to suggest that the image is “not fake”.

The infamous photo has accumulated many conspiracy theories and several attempts to discredit its authenticity - but Michael Thomas, who took dozens of copies of the image while working as a photographer for the Mail on Sunday, has come forward to share that he copied the original image.

Ghislaine Maxwell, who is serving a 20-year sentence for sex trafficking underage girls on behalf of her ex-partner, sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, claimed the image was fake during a prison interview last year. The Duke of York also previously claimed he didn’t remember the photo being taken (and has consistently denied any wrongdoing).

Giuffre, who said she was 17-years-old at the time, used the photograph as evidence to support her claims that she was sexually abused by Prince Andrew on three occasions, after being trafficked from California to the UK by Epstein. She first showed the image to the Mail on Sunday (where it was seen by Thomas) in February 2011.

Due to it being such a sensitive story and image, reporter Sharon Churcher who was covering the story allowed Thomas to take photographs of the original print. Thomas took multiple shots of the front and back of the physical printed picture.

Thomas recently said to the Mail on Sunday: “I think I took more than 30 frames, which is overkill for copying one photo but I didn’t want to get it out of focus or get it wrong because I knew how important it was.

prince andrew and virgina giuffre photo claimed genuine by photographer who copied the original
Getty Images

“I was holding the original photo in my hand. It was a normal 6x4 inch print that you would have got from any developer at the time.”

Thomas explained that the photo looked like it was 10 years old by the time he saw it. “It wasn’t crisp because it had been developed in 2001. For Ghislaine Maxwell to come out and say it was fake is ridiculous. I held the photo. It was a normal photograph. It was a physical print. It exists. I saw it and that’s what I photographed.” He has also shared the pictures he took of the photo with the Daily Mail.

“When they say it’s fake, they are saying that I’m involved,” Thomas added. “They are basically accusing someone of faking it and me being party to it. It’s not fake – and it never has been.”

The photograph also had a stamp that reads ‘000 #15 13Mar01 Walgreens One Hour Photo’, which insinuates the picture was developed in a one-hour service on 13 March 2001, at a branch of Walgreens – similar to Boots in the UK.

A Florida-based photographic expert and court witness, Joel Van Hemel, also said he had no doubt the photo was genuine when shown the back of the photo: “It was definitely produced in a Walgreens, for sure, probably using a Noritsu or Fuji machine.

“The 000 number would be the order number, presumably because it was their first order that particular day. And the #15 is the negative number – it was the 15th picture in the film roll.”

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