Details of a settlement between Jeffrey Epstein and Virginia Giuffre that Prince Andrew’s lawyers believe will stop him facing a sex abuse lawsuit have been made public on the eve of a pivotal court hearing in the case against the royal.
A 2009 legal document unsealed by a New York court on Monday revealed Ms Giuffre was paid $500,000 (£370,000) to settle her claims against the late paedophile financier, a former friend of the Duke of York.
The 12-page deal shows Ms Giuffre agreed to “release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge” Epstein and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant”.
Lawyers for the Duke of York, who is being sued by Ms Giuffre for alleged sexual assault when she was a teenager, say this means her case against him should not proceed as she agreed to drop any legal action against people connected to Epstein.
Ms Giuffre, formerly known as Virginia Roberts, alleges she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew in London and at two of Epstein’s properties when she was 17 and a minor under US law.
The royal has strongly denied the claims and a hearing on his motion to dismiss the case will take place in New York on Tuesday morning, when a court is expected to hear legal arguments over the wording and implications of Ms Giuffre’s settlement with Epstein.
If the case moves forward, the Prince could be forced to sit for a deposition under oath and turn over decades of private communications.
The royal’s attorney Andrew B Brettler has previously argued the civil case should be dismissed as the 2009 settlement absolved him of any liability.
But David Boies, an attorney for Ms Giuffre, called the document "irrelevant" to her claim against Prince Andrew.
"The release does not mention Prince Andrew. He did not even know about it," he said. "The reason we sought to have the release made public was to refute the claims being made about it by Prince Andrew's PR campaign."
US district judge Lewis Kaplan has said a trial could begin between September and December of 2022 if no settlement is reached.
Ms Giuffre’s claims did not form a part of the prosecution case in Maxwell’s trial.
The 38-year-old mother-of-three, who has lived in Australia for more than a decade, is suing Andrew for emotional distress and battery.
The Prince Andrew’s spokesperson told The Independent they had no comment about the unsealing of the 2009 document, which does not mention him by name,
The 12-page settlement states that Ms Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, agreed to “remise, release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge” Epstein and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant from all, and all manner of, action” including “State and Federal, cause and causes of action (common law or statutory), suits, debts, dues, sums of money, accounts, reckonings, bonds, bills ... and demands whatsoever in law or in equity for compensatory or punitive damages”.
It is understood that Prince Andrew will claim he falls within the category of “other potential defendants” because Ms Giuffre had identified him as one of her alleged abusers at the time she entered into the 2009 settlement agreement.
Lawyer and legal writer Lucia Osborne-Crowley told The Independent the “very broad” terms of the 2009 settlement could protect Prince Andrew from Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit.
“It is very possible that the settlement agreement between Virginia Roberts and Jeffrey Epstein protects Prince Andrew,” she said.
“That’s because the language in the settlement is very broad – it says that any third party that could be considered a ‘potential defendant’ in the Epstein lawsuit will be ‘forever’ shielded from any and all claims brought by Ms Roberts.
“It also specifically says that all potential defendants are protected from all lawsuits regardless of whether they are brought in federal or state court.”
According to a report in The Sunday Times, royal courtiers are in discussions about what to do if Prince Andrew loses the civil suit launched by Ms Giuffre in September 2021, which alleges that she was forced to have sex with the royal three times while she was being abused by Epstein.
The source was also quoted as saying that the prince would be asked to give up his remaining patronages of charities and would not be able to go abroad due to the “risk of extradition”, which would result in “a form of internal exile”.
A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said the comments were “without foundation”.
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