Prince Andrew case: High Court to notify duke of US civil proceedings

The news comes after lawyers argued over whether Prince Andrew had been properly served notice of the case in a pre-trial hearing on Monday.

Holly Bancroft
Thursday 16 September 2021 11:40
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Britain's Prince Andrew reportedly served with legal papers in sexual assault case

The High Court will serve papers on the Duke of York in the sex assault claim filed against him if necessary, it said on Wednesday.

Lawyers for Virginia Giuffre, who accuses Andrew of sexually abusing her when she was 17, requested the High Court in London contact the prince about the case.

The news comes after a pre-trial hearing in New York on Monday in which Andrew’s lawyers argued that he had not been properly served notice of the civil case.

Andrew denies Ms Giuffre’s allegations.

For one person to sue another in a civil case, the claimant has to notify them of the action - a process known as a service of proceedings.

Last week, Ms Giuffre’s lawyers said that they had tried to serve papers to Andrew by leaving the documents with a police officer outside his Windsor home.

David Bois, representing Ms Giuffre, told Monday’s hearing that the documents had been “delivered to the last known address of the defendant”, adding that they had also been sent “by Royal Mail”.

Mr Bois added: “We believe we have complied with the service requirement and we filed proof of service last Friday.”

They have now used the Hague service convention to ask the High Court in London to formally notify Andrew about the civil case.

The Hague service convention is a treaty that governs requests between nations for evidence in civil cases.

A High Court spokesperson said on Wednesday: “The lawyers acting for Ms Giuffre have now provided further information to the High Court, and the High Court has accepted the request for service under the Hague service convention.

“The legal process has not yet been served but the High Court will now take steps to serve under the convention unless service is arranged by agreement between the parties.”

Virginia Giuffre, now 38, was an accuser of disgraced financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. She claims that she was a “sex-trafficking victim” and that she was sexually assaulted by Andrew at three locations.

The locations named are the London home of Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s home in Manhattan and his home in Little Saint James, in the US Virgin Islands.

Ms Giuffre claims that Andrew engaged in sex acts with her without her consent, including when she was 17.

Andrew publicly denied these claims in a 2019 interview with BBC’s Newsnight, saying:” It didn’t happen.

“I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.

“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

At Monday’s New York hearing, Andrew’s US lawyer, Andrew B Brettler, described the civil action against him as a “baseless, unviable and potentially unlawful lawsuit”.

The judge Lewis A Kaplan has listed the case for a further hearing on 17 October .

A spokesperson for the Duke of York has been contacted for comment.

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