Prince Andrew’s lawyers ‘will not attend pre-trial hearing into sex claims’

The Duke of York’s lawyers claim that legal papers delivered to his Windsor home were not properly served.

Holly Bancroft
Monday 13 September 2021 15:47
<p>Lawyers for the woman suing the Duke over sexual assault allegations have claimed to have served legal papers on him, according to a document filed in a New York court.</p>

Lawyers for the woman suing the Duke over sexual assault allegations have claimed to have served legal papers on him, according to a document filed in a New York court.

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The Duke of York’s lawyers will not attend a pre-trial hearing in the sex assault claim filed against him on Monday, it has been reported.

His team claimed over the weekend that the legal papers finally delivered to the Andrew’s home in Windsor were not properly served.

The Duke’s UK lawyers also reportedly oppose participating in any legal proceedings on the grounds that doing so would amount to accepting US jurisdiction in the case. The Telegraph reported that the same tactic was likely to be used by Andrew’s newly appointed US-based attorney.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre filed a lawsuit against Andrew in August. She accused him of sexually abusing her, when she was 17, at the home of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell in London and at properties owned by the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Lawyers for Ms Giuffre say that they served Andrew with court summons last month when the papers were handed over to a Metropolitan police officer on duty at the main gates of his home in Windsor.

But Blackfords, a law firm that represents Andrew, are trying to question whether the court papers were indeed properly served.

Andrew vehemently denies the charges of sexual abuse.

Gary Bloxsome, a lawyer with Blackfords, wrote in a leaked letter obtained by ABC News, that “[Giuffre’s lawyers] have made several public, indeed well-publicised, attempts at irregular service of these proceedings in this jurisdiction, in at least one case accompanied by a media representative.”

In the September 6 letter, he added: “These have included attempted personal service of our client at his home, the instruction of a private process server, and attempts to email the proceedings not only to this firm, but to barristers (who are not authorised to conduct litigation) who are known to have acted for the Duke.”

Mr Bloxsome argues that the papers should be served via a British court official, acting as an intermediary between Ms Giuffre’s lawyers and Andrew.

Laywers acting for Ms Giuffre contend that Andrew has been served with the court papers in “multiple methods” that comply with English law.

Aside from delivering the papers to a Metropolitan Police officer outside Andrew’s Windsor residence, a copy of the summons has been emailed to his Royal Household office email address and to his lawyers.

It has also been sent to his Windsor home by a courier service.

Despite Andrew’s legal team signaling that they don’t intend on participating in the pre-trial telephone conference, Judge Lewis Kaplan has ordered that both sides in the case “are directed to confer regarding an agreed scheduling order”, The Telegraph reported.

The telephone conference will be used by Judge Kaplan to lay out a timetable for management of the case and if Andrew’s lawyers fail to dial in for the hearing, it may be seen as being in defiance of his order.

A spokesperson for the Duke of York declined to comment.