A BORIS Johnson ally has been slated for coming out in defence of Prince Andrew in a newspaper column.

In a piece for the Telegraph, Charles Moore – who was made a peer by Johnson in 2020 – said he believed the Duke of York “may well be innocent”.

Moore said he didn’t think the Prince would be “so stupid as to lie on television about such a serious matter” in relation to his interview with Emily Maitlis.

But he has received major criticism from the public with people branding him “spectacularly daft” and others criticising the “symbiotic relationship” between Tory-leaning newspapers and the royal family as “sickening”.

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In his column, monarchist Moore – a former editor of the Telegraph and the Spectator – said he had three reasons for believing Prince Andrew might not have been guilty.

He said: “As far as I can recall, I was the only journalist to suggest at the time that Prince Andrew might not have been guilty of the sex crimes alleged against him by Virginia Giuffre.

“I said this without any special inside knowledge, but I had three reasons. The first was just the doctrine of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.

“The second was the nature of American legal proceedings, in which the ‘shakedown’ is treated almost as an article of the US Constitution. It seems wise, in such a culture, to question many claims made.

The National: Charles MooreCharles Moore (Image: Newsquest)

“The third was that I could not believe that the Duke of York, though not the brightest tool in the royal shed, could have been so stupid as to lie on television about such a serious matter.

“It was easy to agree he had behaved foolishly, perhaps seedily, in his association with Jeffrey Epstein, but it stretched credulity that he could have dared borrow Buckingham Palace and give his ill-judged BBC interview to Emily Maitlis if he had committed the crimes of which he was accused.”

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Social media erupted over the column – which was promoted on the front page of the Telegraph – with one user saying: “This today on Telegraph front page, by the odious Tory propagandist and meddler Charles Moore, tells you all you need to know about what used to be a decent, if always right-leaning, newspaper.

“The symbiotic relationship between the Tory client press and the royals is sickening.”

Moore is known for his authorised biography of Margaret Thatcher and now pens regular columns for the Spectator and the Telegraph. He used to be Johnson’s boss when the former prime minister was a journalist.

Sharing a picture of another column he had written in 2019 entitled “In defence of Prince Andrew” another Twitter user said of the column: “Charles Moore is revealing quite a lot about himself.”

Another user, while sharing a screenshot of the column, said on social media: “There’s a bad smell in the room, it must be the decomposing brain of Charles Moore.”

Andrew agreed in 2022 to make a “substantial donation” to Giuffre’s charity after the pair agreed an undisclosed out-of-court settlement.

Although the parties settled the case, the agreement was not an admission of guilt from the duke and he has always strenuously denied the allegations against him.