Real-Life Jae Donnelly In ‘Scoop’: Where Is The New York Paparazzo Now?


In Netflix’s 2024 film, Scoop, we saw that there was one photograph of Epstein and Prince Andrew that became a sensation for the tabloids and newspapers back in the day. And even after a decade, it held a lot of relevance. Prince Andrew was evidently annoyed that he wasn’t able to get rid of it. That photograph was the only evidence that proved Epstein and Prince Andrew shared a long-standing relationship, and Emily Maitlis, during the explosive 2019 BBC Newsnight interview, made good use of it and exposed the misdeeds of the Queen’s favorite son. Firstly, let’s discuss how Annette Witheridge, who worked for the News of the World at the time, and her go-to photographer, Jae Donnelly, were able to capture the photograph. 

So Annette got a tip from Mazhar Mahmood, aka the King of Sting, that Prince Andrew was going to be in New York for the next four days. Annette tried to find out where the Prince was putting up, and after a lot of hustle, she got to know that he could be staying at either Ghislaine Maxwell’s or Epstein’s house. She tracked Ghislaine’s movements for a couple of days, and after a point in time, she gave up and believed that she wouldn’t be able to find anything of substance. She was sleeping in her car in front of Epstein’s house when something unexpected happened. Firstly, she saw a lot of girls going in and coming out of the mansion. She saw Epstein and Prince Andrew coming out of the house, and together with Jae Donnelly, she chased them. The way we saw Jae running behind them actually happened in real life. He found a sweet spot where both of them were visible and then clicked the picture, which would eventually wreak havoc in Prince Andrew’s life. 

In an interview uploaded by the YouTube channel WNYC, Jae spoke briefly about his job, how he views it, if he likes what he does for a living, and what challenges he faces on a regular basis. He said that though he has to be on the streets looking for that one perfect moment and there is a lot of waiting and staying put involved in his job, at times, he gets paid ridiculous amounts of money. He said that being a paparazzi in New York is not an easy thing, and at times, there is so much stress involved that one cannot deal with it. But then he also accepts that everything seems worth it when you get that one perfect shot. Something similar happened when he clicked Epstein and Prince Andrew in Central Park. He knew that he had clicked the only photo where both of them were seen together, but still, he didn’t realize the furor it was going to cause in the royal family. That photo resurfaced time and again in the newspapers, and the most striking thing about it was the timeline when it was taken.

Jeffrey Epstein had just been released from prison after serving a 13-month sentence for sex trafficking, and additionally, he was kept under probation until August 2010. Now, months after that, Prince Andrew met him, and the only question that Emily Maitlis asked him during the Newsnight interview was why he stayed at the house of a sex offender and, moreover, why he was the guest of honor for the party that he threw. It was Jae’s photograph that helped Emily Maitlis establish the fact that Prince Andrew didn’t have any qualms about having associations with a man of such a reputation. Prince Andrew was always cautious about the fact that he was not seen in public with Epstein, but that one time, a photographer was one step ahead of him, and it had a domino effect that the royal family could never put an end to. 

Prince Andrew didn’t have any answers to the question, and he was caught in a tough spot. Though the BBC interviews are believed to be the reason behind the fall of the Prince, Jae Donnelly’s photograph played an equally important role, if not more. Prince Andrew might not have been charged with a crime by a court of law, but in the court of public opinion, he has lost his reputation.

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Sushrut Gopesh
Sushrut Gopesh
I came to Mumbai to bring characters to life. I like to dwell in the cinematic world and ponder over philosophical thoughts. I believe in the kind of cinema that not necessarily makes you laugh or cry but moves something inside you.

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