As the legal net continues to close in on Prince Andrew, his lawyers are believed to be boycotting today’s virtual pre-trial hearing in the Federal Court in Manhattan, New York.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre (38), an American-Australian mom of three, filed a civil suit against Prince Andrew (61) in August, claiming he had sex with her three times when she was 17 and part of the late convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s harem of underage girls.
The British royal – who’s currently staying with his mother, the queen, on her Scottish estate Balmoral – has continued to deny any wrongdoing, claiming that he can’t even recall ever having met Roberts. This despite the existence of a photograph that shows him with his arms around her.
Meanwhile, his legal team are reportedly considering staying away from the pre-trial hearing, which is due to map out the course of proceedings, because they’re hoping to get the case thrown out on a technicality. This despite the fact that Judge Lewis Kaplan, who’s presiding in the matter, has ordered that both parties in the case “are directed to confer regarding an agreed scheduling order”, according to the UK’s Telegraph.
So far, Andrew and his team haven’t made it easy for Roberts and her team.
Legal papers were served at his UK home on Thursday 26 August. The serving agent was told by the estate’s head of security they couldn’t locate Prince Andrew’s private secretary or “anyone senior” and he was sent away.
The server then returned the following day, when he was informed he could leave the papers with security at the main gates and that they’d be forwarded to the duke’s legal team.
Andrew now has 21 days to respond, or he must face a default judgement.
In a legal filing, Andrew’s solicitor, Gary Bloxsome, said a document Roberts signed way back in 2009 may make her civil action invalid. It’s believed that she reached a confidential settlement with Epstein, who committed suicide in a New York jail cell in 2019, that may prevent her from taking further action against individuals she’s accused of being co-conspirators in Epstein’s sex trafficking ring.
Andrew’s lawyers are now trying to access the signed and sealed document via the US courts because they believe it may prevent the case from progressing. Roberts’ representatives say they will fight the move and insist there’s “no evidence” Andrew was ever intended to be covered by the previous legal agreement.
Many agree Andrew’s continued stonewalling is doing him no favours. It also contradicts his initial statements.
When the scandal forced him to withdraw from royal duty at the end of 2019 on the queen’s orders, Andrew said he’d co-operate with any legitimate inquiries by the US authorities. But instead of facing the music, he headed to his mom’s private Balmoral estate in Scotland where he reportedly hosted a shooting party.
Even royal insiders were unimpressed with Andrew’s behaviour. “This is so brazen it’s unbelievable,” an insider told British tabloid The Sun. "He's carrying on as if nothing’s happened. It’s like he doesn’t have a care in the world."
Insiders believe he should keep his distance from the British royal family right now to avoid dragging the monarch into his problems. “It looks like he’s running to Mummy and that she is harbouring him,” another royal source told The Sun. “No one wants Andrew near Balmoral.”
Sources: dailymail.co.uk, bbc.com, thesun.co.uk