Prince Andrew’s legal team accused of ‘stonewalling’ appeals for information over sexual assault allegations

Virginia Giuffre is suing the Duke of York for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager

The lawyer taking Prince Andrew to court over allegations of sexual assault has accussed the royal’s legal team of “stonewalling” appeals for information.

David Boies represents Virginia Giuffre, who is suing the Duke of York for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

Ms Giuffre claims she was trafficked by the Duke’s former friend and convicted offender Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew, when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.

The royal has vehemently denied the allegations made against him in the past.

Failing to cooperate

Mr Boies said his client wants “vindication” from her civil suit for damages and has said it was “past the time for [the Duke] to be held to account”.

Advertisement

The New York lawyer added that it is her hope that by calling the “rich and powerful abusers to account”, this could help to prevent other young girls from suffering “what she suffered”.

However, the royal’s legal team has been accused of ignoring appeals from lawyers for information, with Mr Boies claiming they have failed to cooperate.

He 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.

“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.”

Advertisement

A spokesman for Prince Andrew said there was “no comment” when asked to respond to Ms Giuffre’s legal action.

What is the Duke accused of?

The civil lawsuit against the Duke was filed at a federal court in New York on Monday (9 August), where court documents claim Ms Giuffre was “lent out for sexual purposes” by Mr Epstein, while she was still a minor under US law.

Prince 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 throughout.

It is alleged that Ms Giuffre, then known as Virginia Roberts, was sexually abused while under the age of 18 by the Queen’s second son at Ms 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.

Advertisement

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”.

It is said that Ms Giuffre “feared death or physical injury to herself or another”, and other repercussions if she disobeyed “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 that the alleged assaults “have caused, and continue to cause her, significant emotional and psychological distress and harm”.

Mr Boies added: “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.”

Advertisement

What happens if the Duke’s team fails to respond?

The Duke does not have to attend or give evidence in the civil proceedings in New York, and if he and his legal team do not engage, the suit is expected to continue without their input.

Prince Andrew does not face the prospect of an extradition hearing as this only applies to criminal charges and not civil cases.

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.”

Advertisement

In a 2009 Newsnight interview, the royal 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 in which he is captured with his arm around Ms Giuffre’s waist at Ms Maxwell’s house, and has questioned whether it was his own hand in the image.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.