On Wednesday evening, BBC viewers heard from the American lawyer Alan M. Dershowitz about the guilty verdict in the case of Ghislaine Maxwell, who was convicted that day of helping the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein recruit, groom and sexually abuse underage girls.
What they were not apprised of was that Mr. Dershowitz had helped defend Mr. Epstein and has himself been accused of abuse by one of Mr. Epstein’s accusers — an accusation he denies.
The British broadcaster, which introduced Mr. Dershowitz as a “constitutional lawyer,” said later in a statement released on Twitter that the interview did not meet its editorial standards: “Mr. Dershowitz was not a suitable person to interview as an impartial analyst, and we did not make the relevant background clear to our audience,” the statement said. “We will look into how this happened.”
Mr. Dershowitz is a longtime criminal defense lawyer known for representing high-profile clients including former President Donald J. Trump and O.J. Simpson. His connection to Mr. Epstein became mired with personal accusations, when in 2014, Virginia Giuffre, who is among Mr. Epstein’s most prominent accusers, said in a court filing that Mr. Dershowitz was one of the Epstein friends to whom she was offered for sex.
In the BBC interview, Mr. Dershowitz said that Ms. Maxwell’s trial undermined the credibility of Ms. Giuffre, and her case against Prince Andrew, whom she has also accused of sexually abusing her when she was still a minor and he was a guest of Mr. Epstein. Prince Andrew, the second son of Queen Elizabeth II, denies that claim.
Ms. Giuffre did not testify at Ms. Maxwell’s trial. And Mr. Dershowitz speculated that the prosecutors had concerns about Ms. Giuffre’s credibility.
The trial of Ms. Maxwell, the former companion to the disgraced financier Mr. Epstein and the daughter of a British media mogul, was widely seen as the courtroom reckoning that Mr. Epstein never had.
The omission of Mr. Dershowitz’s connection to the case ignited criticism online over conflict of interest. Sarah Churchwell, an American professor at the University of London, was among those weighing in.
The BBC never explained his connection to the case, Professor Churchwell wrote in an email.
“At no point did the BBC journalist challenge Dershowitz or even mention his conflicts of interest although he himself had just raised them, more than once,” she wrote.
In a Substack newsletter published on Thursday, Mr. Dershowitz defended his appearance on the news channel. “The media has repeatedly interviewed victims of Epstein’s abuse,” he wrote. “It is entirely appropriate for the media to interview victims of Giuffre’s false accusations as long as there is full disclosure and no one is misled.”