Duke of York’s legal team accused of ‘totally stonewalling’ lawyers of his alleged victim
The lawyer representing the Duke of York’s accuser has warned against anyone ignoring the US courts as he claimed the royal’s legal team have “stonewalled” appeals for information.
Virginia Giuffre is suing the Queen’s son for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager, and has said it was “past the time for him to be held to account”.
She claims she was trafficked by Andrew’s former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with the duke, when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.
David Boies, who represents Ms Giuffre, said his client ultimately wanted “vindication” from her civil suit for damages.
Andrew has vehemently denied the allegations in the past, and a spokesman for the duke said there was “no comment” when she was asked to respond to Ms Giuffre’s legal action.
According to the Daily Mail, the duke was seen arriving at the royal Scottish retreat of Balmoral Castle on Tuesday evening and was thought to have been accompanied by his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson.
Mr Boies told Channel 4 news: “This is now a matter for courts to decide and it would be very ill-advised for anyone to sort of thumb their nose at a federal court.”
He claimed Andrew’s lawyers have not co-operated: “They have just totally stonewalled. They have refused to provide any explanation, they refuse to engage in any discussions.
“They refuse to provide any facts, they’ve even refused to respond to any of the allegations that have been made in any reasonable way. They have basically simply ignored every letter, every phone call, every outreach that we’ve made.”
Mr Boies said about his client: “I think she expects to get vindication” from the legal process and went on to say, “Her hope is calling the rich and powerful abusers to account will have some effect on reducing the chance that other young girls will suffer what she suffered.”
The duke does not have to attend or give evidence in the civil proceedings in New York, but the legal action will be a further blow to his reputation and the standing of the monarchy, according to Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty Magazine.
He said about the Epstein scandal: “It’s damaging not only for Andrew but for the institution of the monarchy itself because all sorts of allegations have been thrown at the institution since all this came to light – and the perception is, most likely incorrectly, they are not taking it seriously.”
Andrew stepped back from public duties after the backlash from his 2019 Newsnight interview, dubbed a “car crash”, which had attempted to draw a line under his relationship with Epstein – but instead saw him heavily criticised for showing little empathy with the sex offender’s victims.
“I can’t think of any kind of rehabilitation that will bring him back into the royal fold as a working member of the family,” added Mr Little.
Lawyers for Ms Giuffre filed the civil suit seeking unspecified damages at a federal court in New York, where the court documents claim she was “lent out for sexual purposes” by Epstein including while she was still a minor under US law.
Andrew is named as the only defendant in the 15-page suit, brought under New York state’s Child Victims Act, although Epstein and his former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell are mentioned frequently throughout.
It is alleged in the documents Ms Giuffre, then known as Virginia Roberts, was sexually abused while aged under 18 by the Queen’s second son at Maxwell’s home in London, at Epstein’s New York mansion and at other locations including Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.
British socialite Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to sex-trafficking charges in Manhattan federal court, where she faces trial in November, while Epstein took his own life in a US federal jail in August 2019, a month after he was arrested on the same charges.
The documents claim Ms Giuffre “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 duke allegedly engaged in the sexual acts without Ms Giuffre’s consent, while aware of her age and while “knowing that she was a sex-trafficking victim”, the documents claim, adding the alleged assaults “have caused, and continue to cause her, significant emotional and psychological distress and harm”.
Mr Boies told Channel 4 News: “The evidence in terms of what he (Andrew) knew about Jeffrey Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation is something that obviously will be for the jury to decide. I think that everybody who was closely associated with Jeffrey Epstein knew that he had these young girls, these young women who he was trafficking.”
Solicitor advocate Nick Goldstone, head of dispute resolution at international law firm Ince, said: “I don’t think Prince Andrew will be compelled to attend the New York court and give evidence to defend himself.
“I don’t think he will be compelled to put in any defence in writing because he can maintain his right to silence.
“And under the American terminology, ‘take the fifth’ – the Fifth Amendment, everybody has a right to silence for fear of self-incrimination.”
If the duke and his legal team do not engage in the civil proceedings, they are expected to continue without their input – with the court making its judgment in due course.
Andrew does not face the prospect of an extradition hearing as this only applies to criminal charges and not civil cases.
In his Newsnight interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, Andrew denied claims that he slept with Ms Giuffre on three separate occasions, saying: “I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”
The duke also said he has no memory of a well-known photograph of him with his arm around Ms Giuffre’s waist at Maxwell’s house, and has questioned whether it was his own hand in the image.
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