Arrowtown snapper Michael Thomas has inadvertently found himself at the centre of a royal scandal, again.
In 2019, Mountain Scene reported Thomas snapped a copy of the now-infamous photo of Prince Andrew with his arm around the waist of then-17-year-old Virginia Roberts, while former socialite Ghislane Maxwell — currently in the slammer having been sentenced to 20 years for sex trafficking — leans on a doorframe in the background.
It’s Thomas’ photo, taken while he was on assignment with The Mail on Sunday in Australia in 2011, that’s been published countless times over the past couple of years.
Andrew, in 2019, implied in a TV interview the original photo might have been doctored, and then Maxwell, giving a prison interview last month, doubled-down on that claim.
Thomas, in London at the moment, disputed that in a fresh interview with The Mail on Sunday over the weekend, even providing a photo he took of the back of the original photo, showing it was printed at a Walgreens in the United States on March 13, 2001.
But, in a bizarre twist this week, Lady Victoria Hervey, Andrew’s ex-girlfriend, has claimed she’s met Thomas — who, she says, is an alcoholic with a criminal record — and he’s shown her how he doctored the photo, using a razor blade.
Thomas: ‘‘What I’ve learnt is, I’m way cleverer than I thought I was; I never thought I could do that.
‘‘This is real good, I’ll be putting it on my resume.’’
The Arrowtown Brewing co-owner says, oddly, he’s also never met Lady Victoria.
‘‘We don’t move in the same circles — considering I haven’t been out of the country in three years, it’s quite weird we’ve sat down together …
‘‘I can categorically say I don’t have a criminal record … and none of Princess Di’s stuff, either.’’
While he’s sincerely hoping this will be the last time he’s dragged into the debate over the photo’s authenticity, he notes, so far, no one has been sued for publishing it.
‘‘Can you name another photo in the world, where three people who aren’t meant to be there have been plonked there, in the same photo, and that is being reproduced all over the world, but nobody tries to sue the publication … surely the whole thing falls down at that point?’’