The shutters stayed down at Balmoral yesterday as Prince Andrew remained silent over claims he had been served with legal papers accusing him of sexually assaulting a teenager.
Lawyers for Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 38, claimed on Friday they had successfully served him papers that allege he abused Giuffre three times when she was under 18.
The Duke of York, 61, and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson are currently staying with the Queen at Balmoral in Aberdeenshire. Giuffre’s lawyers say their representative delivered legal documents by hand to police officers at Prince Andrew’s Royal Lodge mansion in Windsor on August 27.
The papers demand he responds to the claims by Friday or lose the case by default. However, a judge in New York will be asked to decide tomorrow if the papers have been legally served.
Giuffre alleges the Duke forced her to have sex in London and in the US on three occasions when she was aged 17. She said she was trafficked by Prince Andrew’s former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke has denied all claims made in the civil case launched in New York and his lawyers claim the legal documents are not legally binding. A US judge must determine tomorrow whether the papers were, in fact, served before any case can proceed.
The royal’s biographer, Nigel Cawthorne said: “The royals traditionally keep their heads down when things go wrong, and hide behind palace walls and hope it goes away. In this case it’s not going to go away. Not just because of the Giuffre case but because of the Maxwell case.”
The Duke of York is considered a person of interest in the US investigation into Epstein, and Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend, it has been claimed.
Maxwell, 59, a British socialite and daughter of disgraced media mogul Rupert Maxwell, is facing a slate of sex-trafficking charges in the US.
Epstein took his own life in 2019 as he awaited trial on sex-trafficking charges, more than a decade after he was convicted for soliciting prostitution from a minor.
An unnamed source, said to be close to the Maxwell inquiry, told the Reuters news agency that investigators viewed Prince Andrew as a person of interest over his friendship with Epstein as part of their investigation into possible co-conspirators. The Duke’s lawyers have declined to comment on the claim.
Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew: Epstein, Maxwell And The Palace, said: “The civil case could take years but the criminal case is coming up in November and Giuffre is going to be in court.
“What’s she going to say? What will it mean for the Duke’s reputation? He can hide away in Balmoral all he likes but what are we going to think of him?
“If he wants to rebut these charges he needs to speak to Scotland Yard because they have the records of royal protection officers.
“They will know where he was every hour of every day because he has police in tow all the time.”
Giuffre’s lawyers say in court documents the civil lawsuit was handed to a Metropolitan Police officer who was on duty at the main gates of The Royal Lodge, Windsor Great Park, on August 27 at 9.30am.
Blackfords, who represent the Duke in some UK matters, raised questions in an email on September 6 about how the papers were served.
In a document, they wrote: “We reiterate that our client reserves all his rights, including to contest the jurisdiction of the US courts (including on the basis of potentially defective service).”
They added Ms Guiffre’s claim may not be viable, citing a 2009 release in a separate court case in Florida.
The Duke of York and Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the latest development.
Prince Andrew stepped back from public duties amid the fallout from his relationship with Epstein. The decision came after a 2019 Newsnight interview which saw him unsuccessfully attempt to draw a line under his relationship with Epstein.
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