Duke of York's friend could be back in US courts

Lawyers to question Prince Andrew's sex offender associate.

The Duke of York's attempts to quell the furore surrounding his relationship with the billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein appeared doomed this weekend when it emerged that more lurid details are to be aired in a US court within the next two weeks.

Buckingham Palace was forced to deny that the Duke of York had postponed plans for a trip to Saudi Arabia next week, because of negative media coverage, amid reports in some media that the controversy had made him "toxic". A spokesman said: "Buckingham Palace has never announced any overseas visits for the Duke of York."

The issue refuses to die down, with two Lib Dem ministers breaking rank last night and privately suggesting they think Prince Andrew should quit as trade envoy. One said: "If he was a politician doing this, he would have gone by now, and rightly so." Another added: "That in the 21st century we should be putting up with this is obscene. It is incredibly difficult for the Government, more so the Tory side, but it cannot carry on."

Even attempts by supporters to rally to his cause have been of mixed benefit. The Duchess of York's apology for a "gigantic error of judgement" in accepting money from Epstein only served to fuel reporting, as did reports of the Prince's links to Kazakhstan and the socialite Goga Ashkenazi, who is reported to have had been involved in the sale of the Duke's home to Kazakh oil billionaire Timur Kulibayev. There was also criticism last week when it emerged that the prince lobbied MP Mark Field this week to help to boost UK exports to oil-rich Azerbaijan, a country with a questionable human rights record.

Now US lawyers hope to use a legal dispute between Epstein and Brad Edwards, a Florida attorney, to insist that Epstein reveal more about his relationship with the prince. Epstein will be questioned on allegations he procured sexual favours from minors for friends and forced to answer allegations that he abused up to 40 girls. Many of the most damaging recent headlines about the Duke of York have centred around a photograph of him with his arm around a girl who claims she was abused by Epstein.

Jack Scarola, one of the lawyers close to the case, said: "We are in the process of scheduling a further deposition of Mr Epstein at which we intend to question him regarding the details of his child abuse, including all circumstances in which he may have been involved in procuring sexual favours from minors for his high-profile friends."

Asked whether the duke was with Epstein when minors were present, he said: "The details of that relationship will be a subject of inquiry when Mr Epstein's testimony is taken." The FBI is said to be ready to reopen its criminal investigation into Epstein, convicted in 2008 for soliciting an underage girl for prostitution. A number of women are challenging a plea bargain deal which allowed the billionaire to avoid trial. Epstein, 58, was sentenced to 18 months in prison after admitting two sex offences.

None of this will help Prince Andrew's attempts to damp down coverage questioning his judgement and his choice of associates as he travels the world as a commercial envoy for the UK.



Additional reporting by Andrew McCorkell, Emily Dugan and Matt Chorley

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test