Prince Andrew: What happens next in his case?

Duke of York has repeatedly denied sexual abuse allegations levelled at him by Virginia Roberts Guiffre

Joe Sommerlad
Thursday 17 February 2022 14:06
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Prince Andrew ‘demands jury trial’ in Virginia Giuffre civil sex case

Prince Andrew had demanded he receive a jury trial in the Virginia Roberts Giuffre sexual assault case, his lawyers announced in late January.

Ms Giuffre was suing the Duke of York for emotional harm and battery and alleges she was forced to have sex with him on four occasions when she was 17 years old after being sex trafficked by billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and his socialite friend Ghislaine Maxwell.

However, on 15 February, Andrew and Ms Giuffre settled her lawsuit against him, bringing an end to the protracted legal case in New York court.

Epstein died in a New York prison cell in 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges while Maxwell was found guilty on five related charges in late December, days after her 60th birthday.

A now-infamous photograph shows Prince Andrew, a teenage Ms Giuffre and Maxwell together in the latter’s London townhouse in March 2001, with the former’s arm visible around the girl’s waist.

But the Duke of York has consistently denied any wrongdoing and, in a letter to US federal judge Lewis Kaplan on Wednesday, his attorney Andrew Brettler set out a detailed response to Ms Giuffre’s allegations.

Mr Brettler denied several aspects of her complaint on behalf of his client and elsewhere said he lacked “sufficient information to admit or deny the allegations”.

The lawyer sets out more than 10 “affirmative defences” in the letter, which refer to evidence the royal will use to try to disprove the case.

Among them are claims that Ms Giuffre’s “wrongful conduct” will be used against her and the so-called “doctrine of unclean hands”, which claims she has acted unethically.

“Prince Andrew hereby demands a trial by jury on all causes of action asserted in the complaint,” Mr Brettler stated.

Ms Giuffre’s attorneys hit back at the royal for appearing to blame her for abuse she suffered as a teenager and said they look forward to “confronting” him in court.

On 12 January, Judge Kaplan threw out a request by the prince to dismiss the civil lawsuit after hearing oral arguments from his lawyers, paving the way for a trial to take place. The settlement reached in mid-February means the case will no longer continue.

The suit had previously stalled in the courts as Prince Andrew’s legal team sought to have it dismissed because of a $500,000 settlement the accuser reached with Epstein in 2009, the terms of which, they argued unsuccessfully, protected the duke from legal liability.

The judge had given a timeframe of between September and December 2022 for the trial to commence.

According to legal experts, a British citizen cannot be forced to travel to the US for a civil trial, meaning the prince would have been entitled to give evidence via video link instead.

As for other witnesses, Prince Andrew’s attorneys had expressed interest in questioning Ms Giuffre’s husband Robert Giuffre and her psychologist Dr Judith Lightfoot, indicating they would like to explore the latter’s views on whether or not the accuser could suffer from “false memories”.

Ms Giuffre’s lawyers had meanwhile demanded that the royal produce evidence of his “alleged medical inability to sweat”, a condition he claimed to suffer from during his 2019 interview with BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, which he cited in dismissing Ms Guiffre’s claims that the pair had visited the Tramp nightclub in Mayfair, central London, together when she was a juvenile.

The Duke of York has already been stripped of his military titles and royal patronages by his mother, the Queen.

In a statement, Buckingham Palace announced he would face the lawsuit as a “private citizen”.

He is meanwhile currently understood to be seeking a buyer for his £17m alpine ski chalet in the Swiss resort of Verbier, potentially to raise funds to settle with Ms Guiffre or, as Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer for Epstein’s victims, has suggested, to protect it from seizure in the event that a claim is made against his assets.

“If Virginia gets a judgement against Andrew, if this went all the way through to trial and she received a financial judgement in her favour, she could execute on any properties he has, the most likely being his ski chalet,” Mr Kuvin told The Mirror.

He said it would be “very difficult” for Ms Giuffre to make a claim on Royal Lodge, Andrew’s Windsor Park home where he lives with his ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson.

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