Buckingham Palace have refused to comment on a judge’s ruling to allow Virginia Giuffre’s sexual abuse lawsuit against Prince Andrew to proceed.
Judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed Andrew’s bid to have Ms Giuffre’s civil case thrown out in a judgment issued on Wednesday.
A Palace spokesperson told The Independent: “We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter.’’
The ruling clears way for Ms Giuffre’s attorneys to move into a discovery phase of the trial - causing more embarrassment for Prince Andrew and the royal family.
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Ms Giuffre alleges that Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with his friends, including the duke, and that Andrew was aware she was only 17 at the time. She is suing Prince Andrew for battery and infliction of emotional distress.
Andrew, 61, strongly denies the allegations. In oral arguments held in New York last week, Andrew’s attorney Andrew Brettler claimed a 2009 settlement agreement between Epstein and Ms Giuffre should shield the royal from legal liability.
In his ruling, Judge Kaplan said a key phrase Andrew’s lawyers relied upon - that “other potential defendants” were covered by the settlement deal - did not cover the royal.
“The 2009 cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, that the parties intended the instrument ‘directly’, ‘primarily’, or ‘substantially’ to benefit Prince Andrew,” Judge Kaplan said.
Prince Andrew now faces the prospect of having years of private records forensically pored over, having to sit for a deposition under oath, and having other members of the royal family and police protection called on to provide testimony.
Judge Kaplan has indicated a trial could be held in New York in late 2022.
Ms Giuffre alleges she was trafficked by Epstein and ordered to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions in London, Manhattan and on Epstein’s private island Little St James in the US Virgin Islands, when she was 17.
The Independent has approached Prince Andrew’s spokesperson for comment.
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