The Duke of York is under renewed scrutiny after a jury found his former friend Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking underage girls, with one US lawyer claiming the prince should be “quaking in his boots”.
While Prince Andrew’s lawyers remain hopeful that they can convince a judge to throw out a civil case being brought against him by his accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre at a hearing scheduled for 4 January, representatives of Maxwell’s victims have said the royal should be concerned.
Ms Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages, claiming the prince – Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip’s third child – assaulted her on three separate occasions in 2001 when she was 17. The Duke has adamantly denied the accusations, claiming he has no recollection of meeting her.
Speaking after the verdict of Maxwell’s trial was announced on Wednesday, Ms Giuffre, now 38, repeated claims she was lured into sex work for paedophile Jeffrey Epstein by Maxwell – during which time she says she was sexually abused by Prince Andrew.
“I have been dreaming of this day for the last 10 years,” she told New York magazine’s The Cut. “It’s a bittersweet emotion because I have been fighting for so long.”
Ongoing attempts by the prince’s legal team to paint Ms Giuffre as an unreliable witness have been complicated by Maxwell’s trial, after she was unanimously convicted of five of the six sex trafficking counts against her in relation to supplying underage girls to Epstein – a friend of Prince Andrew’s, believed to have died by suicide in prison in 2019 awaiting his own trial.
Andrew Brettler, the Duke’s lead counsel, has asked Lewis Kaplan, the judge, to halt proceedings against the royal on the basis that Ms Giuffre lives in Australia and not Colorado, as her lawsuit suggests, which would invalidate her claim under federal court law.
However, a source close to Ms Giuffre reportedly told The Telegraph that her living arrangements were well known, branding it “pretty desperate stuff”.
Sigrid McCawley, who represents Ms Giuffre and Maxwell victim Annie Farmer, also spoke to the paper, saying: “This verdict told the American public that regardless of power, or privilege, whether you’re a president or a prince, you will be held accountable.”
While Ms Giuffre was not a witness in Maxwell’s trial, one of the upheld convictions included a reference to her. There were also nearly 250 mentions of her and multiple photographs shown to the jury.
The accusations against Prince Andrew – which first surfaced a decade ago, including a photograph of the royal with his arm around the waist of Ms Giuffre – have caused great embarrassment to the Royal family and have seen the Duke step down from all his public duties.
So damaged is his reputation that when he appeared in the BBC1 documentary Prince Philip: The Royal Family Remembers in September, to honour his father several months after his death, there was a public outcry.
Lisa Bloom, a Los Angeles-based lawyer who represented eight of Epstein’s victims, suggested Maxwell’s conviction should be seen as a warning to Prince Andrew.
“He should be quaking in his boots because this shows that a jury is willing to come back with a guilty verdict even if the accusers are not perfect, as no human being is,” she said.
The Duke’s lawyers, on the other hand, have insisted they are not concerned about the potential effects of the Maxwell trial on their client because it has nothing to do with him.
“They are two separate cases,” a source for his legal team told The Times.
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