US judge tells Prince Andrew’s lawyers they’re making Epstein-linked abuse case ‘more complicated’ than it needs to be

The Duke of York’s lawyers had rejected the previous attempt at service, which they called invalid

Nathan Place
New York
Tuesday 14 September 2021 07:29
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An American judge has told Prince Andrew’s lawyers they’re making his legal service in a sexual abuse lawsuit far more “complicated” than necessary.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan made the comment at a Monday hearing by telephone, during which the Duke of York’s lawyer, Andrew Brettler, disputed that the royal had been validly served a court summons.

A lawyer for the plaintiff, Virginia Giuffre, argued that the service was in fact valid, and Judge Kaplan offered to order “alternative service” through other channels within a week. The two sides then argued over whether that was necessary, and the judge appeared to lose patience.

“Mr Brettler, I think we’re making this a lot more complicated than it really is,” Judge Kaplan said.

The comment, and others the judge made in the same tone, could be a sign that Prince Andrew’s supposed tactics of delay are not likely to work much longer.

“Let’s cut out all the technicalities and get to the substance,” Judge Kaplan later added.

The substance is that in a lawsuit, Ms Giuffre has accused Prince Andrew of abusing her when she was 17 at homes owned by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.

Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

Ms Giuffre’s lawyers say they served Prince Andrew with a 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 on Monday, Prince Andrew’s lawyers vigorously denied that this service was valid.

“We do contest the validity of service to date,” Mr Brettler said. “The Duke has not been properly served under either UK law or pursuant to The Hague Convention.”

Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, disputed this, saying the prince had been served “in several ways,” including by mail and by direct delivery to his last-known address.

“We believe that service has been effected,” Mr Boies said.

Judge Kaplan gave Ms Giuffre’s lawyers one week to request another attempt at serving the summons by other means, via either the Hague Convention or a legal mechanism called Rule 4F3.