Written by Amy Beecham
Prince Andrew’s accuser, Virginia Giuffre, claims that the Queen’s son sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old after she was trafficked by his former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Updated 30 October 2021: In the latest development in the civil lawsuit against Prince Andrew, The Duke of York’s lawyers have asked a New York judge to throw out a sexual abuse case, claiming sensationalism has ‘prevailed over the truth’.
Prince Andrew’s legal team maintain that he “never sexually abused or assaulted” accuser Virginia Giuffre. In papers filed in Manhattan federal court, Andrew Brettler, the prince’s attorney, wrote: “Without diminishing the harm suffered as a result of [Jeffrey] Epstein’s alleged misconduct, Prince Andrew never sexually abused or assaulted Giuffre. He unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him.”
Mr Brettler also requested that the lawsuit, which he described as “baseless”, be thrown out or that lawyers for Ms Giuffre be required to refile the lawsuit with a more definitive statement of her allegations.
“Accusing a member of the world’s best known royal family of serious misconduct has helped Giuffre create a media frenzy online and in the traditional press. It is unfortunate, but undeniable, that sensationalism and innuendo have prevailed over the truth,” the filing stated.
The Metropolitan police had previously said it would not take any further action against him following a review prompted by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre’s claims.
Scotland Yard originally ruled out opening an investigation into Epstein, but in August Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said the force would review the decision.
However, earlier this month it announced the decision not to continue an investigation into the Duke of York, saying: “As a matter of procedure, MPS officers reviewed a document released in August 2021 as part of a US civil action. This review has concluded and we are taking no further action.”
As the BBC reports, a source close to the duke told PA Media it had “come as no surprise” the Met had decided to drop its probe.
They added: “Despite pressure from the media and claims of new evidence, the Met have concluded that the claims are not sufficient to warrant any further investigation.”
“The duke has always vigorously maintained his innocence and continues to do so.”
Earlier this year, The Duke of York had accepted service in the US of a lawsuit accusing him of the sexual assault and battery of a then-teenage Virgina Giuffre.
UK’s High Court last week agreed to intervene to ensure that he was served notice of the ongoing case after previous requests by Giuffre’s lawyers were rejected.
However, after the High Court has confirmed that it has received and accepted the request for service, the Independent reports that a filing with the US District Court in Manhattan on Friday showed the prince has accepted service.
What are the claims against Prince Andrew?
Virginia Giuffre, now aged 38,is suing the prince for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.
In a lawsuit first filed in August in Manhattan’s federal court, Giuffre claims that after she was coerced into Andrew’s former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation, and that Epstein forced her on several occasions to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 and he was around 40.
Repeating prior claims made in Giuffre’s explosive Panorama interview back in 2019, as reported by New York Magazine, the suit alleges that the prince committed “sexual assault and battery” at Epstein’s New York City mansion when she and “another victim” were forced to “sit on Prince Andrew’s lap as Prince Andrew touches her.” During that visit, the lawsuit claims, the royal also forced Giuffre to “engage in sex acts against her will.”
The suit also alleges that Prince Andrew abused Giuffre on Epstein’s private jet and that he raped her at the home of alleged Epstein accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell (who faces her own trial beginning in November) in London.
“During each of the aforementioned incidents, Plaintiff was compelled by express or implied threats by Epstein, Maxwell, and/or Prince Andrew to engage in sexual acts with Prince Andrew, and feared death or physical injury to herself or another and other repercussions for disobeying Epstein, Maxwell, and Prince Andrew due to their powerful connections, wealth, and authority,” the lawsuit states.
“Twenty years ago, Prince Andrew’s wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her. It is long past the time for him to be held to account.”
How has Prince Andrew responded to the claims of sexual assault?
Despite claiming in 2019 that he would cooperate with “appropriate” authorities on investigations into his alleged abuses, the Duke of York has repeatedly not responded to FBI and US. prosecutors’ requests to question him. As The Guardian reports, after ignoring voluntary requests for testimony early in 2020, he began dodging prosecutors’ queries made through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty to the British Home Office, which would allow a British court to question him.
Andrew has vehemently denied all the allegations. In an attempt to defend himself, he appeared on BBC’s Newsnight in November 2019, saying he did not regret his friendship with Epstein because it was “useful” and staying at his home was “convenient.”
However, integral to the lawsuit is a picture of Prince Andrew with his arm around a then-17-year-old Giuffre’s waist in which Maxwell appears in the background. Prince Andrew has claimed he has “no recollection” of meeting her, has previously claimed the photo was doctored and has denied all wrongdoing. He has never faced criminal charges.
The prince’s legal team maintain his innocence, commenting in court written statements: “Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him. Epstein’s abuse of Giuffre does not justify her public campaign against Prince Andrew.”
What will happen next?
Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.
While The Met has dropped its own investigation, Scotland Yard said in a statement that they would “continues to liaise with other law enforcement agencies who lead the investigation into matters related to Jeffrey Epstein” as the lawsuit continues in the US.
In the US, a hearing in the case is scheduled for next week.
According to the arguments on the prince’s behalf, Giuffre’s 2009 settlement of sex trafficking and sexual abuse claims against Epstein included a general release of all claims against him and numerous other individuals and entities.
Earlier this week, his lawyer said in a written submission to the judge that the agreement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here”.
As the Independent reports, while not specified in the court papers, both Andrew and Giuffre are expected to answer questions under oath.
District judge Lewis Kaplan, who serves in the Southern District of New York, ruled that depositions must be completed on or before 14 July 2022, which potentially clashes with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations that will take place in June.
Images: Getty/Florida Southern District Court
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