Notorious photo of Prince Andrew with accuser Virginia Giuffre ‘confirmed as real by Ghislaine Maxwell’

Disputed photo was at the heart of the civil case against Duke

What's next for Andrew after out-of-court settlement with Virginia Giuffre

A leaked email from convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell appears to confirm a notorious photograph of Prince Andrew with his accuser Virginia Giuffre is real, it’s reported.

On Tuesday evening it was announced that the Duke of York and Ms Giuffre had agreed a settlement, reportedly for at least £10 million, for a civil case in which she accused the Queen’s second son of sexual abuse.

Key to Ms Giuffre’s case was a photograph showing herself, the royal and his now-disgraced friend Maxwell believed to have been taken  at the British socialite’s London home in 2001.

But the prince claimed he had no recollection of ever meeting his accuser, then 17, who claims she was forced to have sex with him.

He strenuously denied all the allegations against him and a statement put out by him includes no apology.

Andrew previously sought to question the veracity of the photo and before the settlement, his lawyers had asked to see it so they could establish whether it was ‘fake’.

Prince Andrew pictured with his accuser, then known as Virginia Roberts - with Ghislaine Maxwell out of shot, to the right

According to an email leaked to the Daily Mail Maxwell, who can be seen in the background of the picture, said it was genuine.

In January 2015 her lawyer is said to have raised the issue in a message asking: ‘Dear G. Do you know whether the photo of Andrew and virginia is real? You are in the background.’

Shortly after she replies: “It looks real. I think it is,” the paper reported.

Maxwell, a former boyfriend of the dead paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was last year found guilty of recruiting and grooming four teenagers for the disgraced financier.

She now awaits sentencing in a US prison in June, following her conviction in December.

In a joint statement confirming the settlement last night, the Prince Andrew said he regretted his association with Epstein,  who he acknowledged “trafficked countless young girls over many years”.

Prince Andrew always denied the allegations against him but has now settled out of court

The duke, who had reportedly come under pressure from the Queen not to take the case to court, said he also accepted that Ms Giuffre was “an established victim of abuse” who had been subjected to “unfair public attacks” and said he “commends the bravery” of her and other survivors.

“Virginia Giuffre and Prince Andrew have reached an out of court settlement,” the statement read. “The parties will file a stipulated dismissal upon Ms Giuffre’s receipt of the settlement (the sum of which is not being disclosed).”

Andrew said that he intends to make a substantial donation to Ms Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights.

“Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks,” the statement added.

Pressure is growing on the duke to give up his titles as royal experts say it seems  “impossible” he could ever return to royal duties and may “forever be tainted” by the scandal of the case, which has cast a shadow over the Queen’s jubilee year.

Gloria Allred, a US lawyer who represented several of Epstein’s victims, said the duke’s settlement now means that, without a jury trial, the public “will just have to decide who they believe”.

Virginia Giuffre has agreed an undisclosed sum believed to be in the millions

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Allred said: “This case will be dismissed, then each will go their own way and he will never end up testifying under oath, at least not this case, and the public will just have to decide who they believe.”

She later added: "Lawsuits are war but a settlement means that both sides are seeking peace, and that’s what happened here.

"There will be peace now but this case will be remembered for many, many years to come."

On the settlement between Andrew and Ms Giuffre, Ms Allred said: "My guess is that she’s not going to be able to say any more about Prince Andrew in this case either.

"That ship has sailed."

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