Prince Andrew accused of ‘victim blaming’ over tactics in sex assault trial

Experts have called the move one of ‘the lowest forms of tactics that can be used’

Thomas Kingsley
Sunday 16 January 2022 22:03
Prince Andrew Sued On Sexual Assault Charges in the U.S.

Prince Andrew has been accused of “victim blaming” after new court documents revealed that his lawyers have demanded to see Virginia Giuffre’s mental health records and confidential notes from counselling sessions.

The prince’s legal team has asked to interview Dr Judith Lightfoot, a psychologist, and Ms Giuffre’s husband Robert under oath to obtain information relating to “alleged emotional and psychological harm and damages”.

In the new court documents, his lawyers suggest that Ms Giuffre’s civil action against the prince, accusing him of sexually abusing her when she was a teenager, may be based on “false memories”.

Ms Giuffre claims to have been abused by Andrew on three separate occasions – in London, in New York, and on Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean. The prince vehemently denies all allegations against him.

Charlotte Proudman, a barrister and Cambridge academic specialising in violence against women, accused the prince of “gaslighting victims of trauma”, adding that his lawyers’ behaviour is “the ultimate in victim-blaming”.

She said: “A lot of victims of abuse understandably reach out for therapeutic support.

“[Andrew’s lawyers] are trying to discredit her. They are trying to find something she might have said to the psychologist that potentially undermines the claims she has made or to show potential inconsistencies.”

Dr Proudman called it one of “the lowest forms of tactics that can be used”.

Nazir Afzal, who was chief prosecutor in the Rochdale grooming scandal, said: “[The] problem with Prince Andrew’s attempt to get his accuser’s therapy records to suggest that she has ‘false memory’ is that Epstein admitted to abusing her, hence the settlement.

“The records will show she was traumatised like all abuse victims. Finally, it smacks of desperation.”

Anna Birley, of the Reclaim These Streets campaign group for women’s safety, added: “It should never be a question of how the victim behaves, what she wears, how much she drank or what she shared with her therapist.”

A similar strategy was attempted unsuccessfully by Ghislaine Maxwell against Ms Giuffre and other child sex abuse victims.

Andrew’s case looks set to head to trial later this year. He no longer holds his honorary military titles or royal patronages after being stripped of them earlier this week. Buckingham Palace has faced calls to strip him of his Duke of York title as well.

The Daily Mirror reported that the prince was left tearful after being told by the Queen that his roles were to be taken away.

A plaque in honour of the prince has also been removed from a wall at Torquay police station in Devon, following a public complaint.

Senior officers said they took the decision to remove the plaque in line with Andrew being stripped of his military titles along with the right to have the title “His Royal Highness” in front of his name.

Ms Giuffre’s lawyers are requesting testimonies from Robert Olney – the prince’s former equerry (personal assistant) – and a woman called Shukri Walker, who claims to have seen Andrew in the Tramp nightclub in London, where Ms Giuffre said she went with him in 2001.

The documents say Ms Walker has stated publicly that she was a witness to Andrew’s presence at the Tramp nightclub with a young woman who may have been Ms Giuffre.

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