Palace using Meghan to take focus off Prince Andrew, claims lawyer for Jeffrey Epstein victims

Probe into bullying claims against Duchess is ‘distraction,’ says attorney Gloria Allred

Adam Forrest@adamtomforrest
Tuesday 09 March 2021 15:13
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Meghan says her only regret is believing that the royal family would protect her

A leading US lawyer has suggested Buckingham Palace’s investigation into bullying claims against Meghan Markle is aimed at taking the focus off Prince Andrew and his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.

The palace has launched a probe following claims published in The Times that the Duchess of Sussex had left staff members “humiliated” on several occasions before she and Prince Harry left for the US.

Gloria Allred, the attorney representing 20 women who say they were victims of convicted paedophile Epstein, said the royal family’s inquiries into alleged bulling were a “distraction” from more important matters.

“Why does Buckingham Palace not conduct an investigation and make a public statement condemning Prince Andrew for failing to provide what is requested to those who are seeking the whole truth and justice for the victims of crimes against children?” Ms Allred said in a statement shared with The Guardian.

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The lawyer added: “The investigation into Meghan Markle is a distraction, and it appears hypocritical under the circumstances. I have to wonder if it reflects a calculated decision to take the focus off of Prince Andrew.”

A spokesperson for the Duchess of Sussex has denied the bullying allegations, labelling them a “smear campaign”. Reports suggest that Meghan and Harry may not be offered a chance to contribute their side of the story during the palace’s inquiries.

“Prince Andrew is accused of much more than bullying or harassment in the workplace,” said Ms Allred – who has been pushing for the prince to answer questions by US criminal prosecutors investigating Epstein’s crimes.

Last year Ms Allred arranged for an American school bus to drive past Buckingham Palace with a message on its side urging the prince to speak with the FBI.

“It is long overdue for the palace to change its priorities and announce that it is conducting its own investigation of Prince Andrew,” said the attorney.

“In addition, it should immediately issue a statement condemning Prince Andrew for failing to provide full in-person cooperation in the ongoing criminal investigation by the United States justice department.”

She added: “Why has Prince Andrew not been stripped of the royal titles that he enjoys, as has been the case for Meghan and Harry? He has certainly not brought dignity and respect to his work as a royal.”

Prince Andrew has denied any wrongdoing

Virginia Roberts, now Guiffre, has alleged that Prince Andrew was one of the men she was pressured by Epstein into having sex with as a 17-year-old in 2001.

Prince Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre – and said he could not recall ever meeting her.

In November 2019, the prince said he continued to “unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein”. He also said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.

However, he has not spoken to any US authorities looking into Epstein’s alleged crimes since issuing the statement.

Last December, Prince Andrew’s spokeswoman refused to comment on a report claiming a fax appeared to show that he stayed in the New York home of Epstein on 11 April 2001, despite denying doing so in his BBC Newsnight interview in November 2019.

Asked by Newsnight about staying at the sex offender’s mansion, he replied: “I may have visited but no, definitely didn’t, definitely, definitely no, no, no activity.”

Prince Andrew stepped back from public duties shortly after his Newsnight interview, but he has not had any of his titles removed. He remains the Duke of York.

Prince Harry has had royal patronages removed and been stripped of his military titles – including his role as captain general of the Royal Marines – but he remains the Duke of Sussex.

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