US

Prince Andrew could face £14million in damages if he loses US lawsuit

Prince Andrew faces a damages bill of up to £14million ($19million) if he loses his bombshell US lawsuit accusing him of rape, American lawyers have claimed as it emerged that a court hearing could still be five years away.

Legal hurdles that might delay the case in New York mean that the Queen, 95, could be aged 100 by the time her son went on trial in a civil court, increasing the possibility that Prince Charles could be king by then.

The civil lawsuit accuses Andrew – who is thought to be worth £32.5million – of rape in the first degree, sexual battery and sexual abuse – and UK detectives have now begun examining allegations made in the legal papers.

Mother-of-three Virginia Giuffre, 38, alleges she was forced to have sex with the Duke on the orders of the paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein when she was 17 – and that the royal knew she was the victim of trafficking.

Andrew, 61, who is on holiday with the Queen at Balmoral, has previously strenuously denied the claims – saying he categorically did not have any sexual contact with Mrs Giuffre and does not even recall meeting her.

Top US civil lawyer Spencer Kuvin, who represents several of Epstein’s victims, told the Daily Mirror: ‘To punish someone worth a billion dollars you have got to hit them in their pockets and punish them accordingly.

Queen Elizabeth II with her son Prince Andrew on the Buckingham Palace balcony during Trooping The Colour in June 2019

Top US civil lawyer Spencer Kuvin, who represents several of Epstein's victims,

Jeffrey Epstein

Top US civil lawyer Spencer Kuvin (left) represents several victims of the paedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein (right)

Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, was photographed with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell in London in 2001

Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, was photographed with Prince Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell in London in 2001 

‘Damages against Andrew could range in excess of £14million. Easily. There are going to be huge legal hurdles in the federal court before they will be able to even begin the process of litigating.

‘It would not surprise me if it took a minimum five years to appear before a jury and that is if Andrew’s legal team do not get the case dismissed.’

Q&A: What offences may have been committed and what happens next?

What has Met boss said?

Dame Cressida Dick confirmed she has asked her officers to ‘have another look at the material’, particularly a new document which alleges sexual offences were committed by Prince Andrew. He has in the past strenuously denied all wrongdoing and insists he has never met the complainant Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre.

Has Scotland Yard looked at this issue before?

Twice – once in 2015 and again in 2019. On those occasions, officers concluded it was not a matter for the Metropolitan Police to investigate because Mrs Giuffre’s claims ‘largely focused on activities and relationships outside the UK’. At that stage, Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell were at the centre of Mrs Giuffre’s allegations.

How is this different to previous reviews?

A civil lawsuit was lodged in New York this week by lawyers for Mrs Giuffre which, for the first time, made direct allegations against Andrew. Scotland Yard said these documents will form the focus of the review, led by senior officer Commander Alexis Boon.

What offences may have been committed?

It is unclear at this stage if the allegations in the new legal papers could be interpreted as crimes in this country. Dame Cressida said the question of jurisdiction is one of the factors each review must examine closely – in other words, where in the world the alleged incidents took place and whether it is appropriate to lead any potential investigation.

Does this mean the duke is under investigation?

No. The review is a kind of ‘scoping exercise’ which takes place in order to assess whether an official criminal investigation should be launched.

What happens next?

That depends on how matters unfold in the US courts. More documents may emerge, which could impact on how Scotland Yard proceeds. But the US legal process could take years.

He added that it is likely the controversy surrounding the Duke will ‘continue long after the Queen passes away’ and then Charles will have to ‘decide how to deal with it’.

Andrew is now facing renewed pressure to break his silence after a dramatic intervention by the UK’s top police officer Dame Cressida Dick who has told Metropolitan Police detectives to review the claims.

As Dame Cressida warned ‘no one is above the law’, the new review will be led by one of the force’s most senior officers, Commander Alexis Boon, who has a background in counter-terrorism operations.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘As a matter of procedure, officers are reviewing a document released in August 2021 as part of a US civil action.’

Sources say that while Andrew is at Balmoral, he is on the phone to his lawyers daily to discuss his next move.

The prince and his team were said to be completely ‘blindsided’ by the decision to launch civil proceedings against him.

But it seems his UK legal representatives – led by Clare Montgomery QC, known as the ‘doyenne of extradition law’, and solicitor Gary Bloxsome – had not anticipated that Mrs Giuffre, formerly Virginia Roberts, and her lawyer would make good on their threat to seek redress through the civil courts.

There is also widespread incredulity that they have chosen not to make any public statement on such a significant development – even one that simply repeated Andrew’s previous denials of wrongdoing.

It has left the royal, in the words of one member of his circle, ‘to be tried in the court of public opinion’.

They said: ‘That cannot be a good thing – whatever you might think of him. It is proving reputationally damaging not just to himself, but to the Royal Family.’

It is thought that Andrew is following advice from his lawyers in deciding to keep silent, but many question the wisdom of the strategy.

A Palace insider said: ‘We are extremely unhappy at the legal strategy of stone-walling. The Duke’s burying his head in the sand. The only person he is talking to is his lawyer Gary Bloxome.

‘We just hope Gary has some magic legal trick up his sleeve as every hour of silence, not even repeating the Duke’s declaration that he is innocent and denying any sexual impropriety, is shredding his reputation.

‘He could at the same time say something to show sympathy for anyone who is a sexual victim. His family despair at the Duke’s reliance on only one source of advice, which could be devastating for him in the long run.’

Prince Charles flew up to Scotland yesterday ahead of crisis talks with Andrew about Miss Roberts’s lawsuit.

Both Charles and Prince William have, behind the scenes, been increasingly vocal over their concern about the way the case has been handled by Andrew and his legal team.

Prince Charles is pictured at Aberdeen Airport yesterday

Prince Charles, 72, is photographed driving his wife Camilla towards his Birkhall estate near Balmoral in Scotland yesterday

Brothers Prince Andrew and Prince Charles at the Order of the Garter Service at St George's Chapel in Windsor in June 2015

Brothers Prince Andrew and Prince Charles at the Order of the Garter Service at St George’s Chapel in Windsor in June 2015

Virginia Giuffre (centre, in blue) in New York in 2019 with her lawyer David Boies for a hearing in the Jeffrey Epstein case

Virginia Giuffre (centre, in blue) in New York in 2019 with her lawyer David Boies for a hearing in the Jeffrey Epstein case

The Queen arrived for her traditional summer holiday at Balmoral on Monday. She is pictured above during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland at the gates

The Queen arrived for her traditional summer holiday at Balmoral on Monday. She is pictured above during an inspection of the Balaklava Company, 5 Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland at the gates

The York camp, it is felt, are seen as being constantly ‘on the back foot’ and have allowed a hugely toxic situation to drag on for far too long.

Charles in Scotland for crisis talks with Andrew 

Prince Charles is pictured at Aberdeen Airport yesterday

Prince Charles is pictured at Aberdeen Airport yesterday

Prince Charles arrived in Scotland last night ahead of an awkward showdown with his younger brother.

The Prince of Wales, 72, has taken up residence at Birkhall, his home close to Balmoral where Andrew is staying with the Queen.

He was pictured at Aberdeen Airport yesterday evening after flying up from London with Camilla.

Sources have revealed that the future king is deeply concerned at how Andrew and his legal team have been handling the case and fears the scandal is causing irrevocable damage to the monarchy.

Charles also believes that his brother can never return to public life – not just because of the US lawsuit but due to the indelible stain of his links to paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

It is not clear when the two royal brothers – who have a difficult relationship at the best of times – will meet. However, sources say it is inconceivable that the lawsuit will not be raised. One insider said: ‘In truth, the Duke of York has little support within the family or the household. But this lawsuit is an elephant in the room that no one can ignore.’

Andrew has refused to discuss his ongoing legal woes with his family in any depth so far, it is understood. After being forced to step back from public duties for the ‘foreseeable future’ in 2019, he began employing his own legal and PR teams outside the royal household.

As it was, he is said to have worked out of Buckingham Palace as a ‘rogue operator’, running his own tight-lipped team and – frustratingly for many staff – refusing to take instruction from any other royal aides.

Despite this, it is understood that Andrew always wanted to return to a more frontline royal role. His misplaced confidence was further boosted following his father’s death in April when he gave a tribute on camera.

Sources have said that he believed – right up until Monday’s bombshell news – that he could plan a slow return to royal life once the trial of his friend and Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell concluded this autumn. It is not clear how long Andrew plans to stay in Scotland. But sources say he is in touch with his legal team in London on a daily basis about his next move.

The two future kings also fear that the damage already caused to the reputation of the monarchy by Andrew’s links to Epstein is far-reaching – and will only get worse unless the prince starts to get a grip on the situation.

There is also is understandable concern for the Queen, who at 95 is already having to deal with the death of her beloved husband in April, as well as the continued fall-out with Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the spectre of her grandson’s score-settling memoirs to be published next year.

‘It’s a lot for anyone to take, without this,’ another source said.

The new review announced by Dame Cressida is the third time senior Metropolitan Police detectives have examined Mrs Giuffre’s allegations.

The commissioner told LBC radio station yesterday: ‘As a result of what’s going on, I’ve asked my team to have another look at the material. No one is above the law.’ 

Asked whether the case was again under review, the commissioner said: ‘Absolutely.’

Both previous reviews concluded the allegation of sex trafficking was not a matter for Scotland Yard because ‘any investigation…would be largely focused on activities and relationships outside the UK’.

Dame Cressida refused to comment on whether she – or anyone in her force – had reviewed notes made by Andrew’s royal protection officers.

Dai Davies, former head of royalty protection at Scotland Yard, last night described the case against Andrew as a ‘stain’ on the UK.

He said: ‘Of course, the duke is not obliged to say anything, but the longer his lack of co-operation continues, the more he is damned by his silence. Surely now is the time to co-operate and say something once and for all?

‘This needs to be properly investigated because it is leaving a stain on the Royal Family and it is leaving a stain on the reputation of this country.’

The former senior officer also called for the UK authorities to co-operate with the FBI’s investigation into Epstein’s crimes, including forcing Andrew’s former police bodyguards to give evidence about anything they may have seen. 

Epstein, 66, a former friend of Andrew, died in jail in an apparent suicide in 2019 before he was due to face trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

Epstein’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, 59, remains in custody in New York, charged with enticement of minors, sex trafficking, and perjury. She denies all wrongdoing.

The duke has previously said he never saw or suspected ‘any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to [Epstein’s] arrest’.

Dame Cressida refused to comment on whether she – or anyone in the Metropolitan Police – had reviewed notes made by Andrew’s royal protection officers.

But she insisted Scotland Yard would continue to work with foreign law enforcement agencies if necessary.

‘We are of course, open to working with authorities from overseas,’ she said. ‘We will give them every assistance if they want to, if they if they ask us for anything within the law, obviously.’

JAN MOIR: Prince Andrew’s silence isn’t golden… it just makes him look tarnished 

The Duke of York at a Buckingham Palace garden party in 2016

The Duke of York at a Buckingham Palace garden party in 2016

At the top of the Royal Family tree, up there where the air is rarefied, a group of powerful men wring their hands in dismay. Beads of sweat pop on their foreheads. Frown lines furrow and deepen. Eyes roam over headlines, searching for succour, finding none.

They lift their eyes to the horizon only to see a tornado of sleaze barrelling towards them, picking up speed as it crosses the Atlantic. This grime-primed bomb of bad news has been heading their way for more than ten years, perhaps even for 20 — but nothing of note has been done to stop it or to try to address the issues that threaten to detonate under their noses.

The men don’t know what to do, so they have started to blame each other. You should have done something. No, you should have!

Who are these cowardly mudslingers and guilt-dodgers, hiding behind the gilt frogging of royal privilege? They are the princes and courtiers, the lawyers and dukes, the knights and commanders who form the patriarchy in excelsis. And now they are the patriarchy partly in a panic, too.

For this week Virginia Giuffre fired the only arrow left in her quiver of vengeance. Now aged 38, she has launched a civil lawsuit in New York in which she accuses Prince Andrew of battery, sexual assault and causing emotional distress when she was 17.

This is her last gasp in a geyser of accusations that have drenched the Prince in shame for years. He can’t recall ever meeting her. She is tired of being ignored. And now his legal team’s strategy of snubbing Miss Giuffre’s claims and refusing to co-operate fully with her lawyers or the American authorities seems to have backfired immensely.

The reaction of the royal in-house posse? To worry about the Queen. THE QUEEN! They fret that this nasty business might spill over and spoil HM’s Platinum Jubilee in 2022. OH NO, NOT THE JUBILEE! Drooping the Colour instead of Trooping the Colour, sounding the warning sirens instead of the golden trumpets. Romp and consequence instead of pomp and circumstance.

What is going on? The feelings of the Queen seem to be the primary concern here, not the trepidations of a young woman who believes herself to have been sex-trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein then wronged by a prince. That can’t be right.

On Channel 4 News this week, her lawyer David Boies claimed Prince Andrew and his team ‘have totally stonewalled’. He said: ‘He can ignore me. And he can ignore Virginia but he can’t ignore judicial process.’

Indeed. Read the room, guys. We live in a post-#MeToo world, one in which the actress Minnie Driver can claim, as she did this week, that ‘I don’t know a woman who hasn’t experienced sexual harassment in her life’. A world in which a 26-year-old female Silicon Valley chief executive is taken seriously when she says, as she did this week: ‘It has taken me years to shake the deep-seated belief that I only got to where I am due to older men wanting to have sex with me.’

And a world in which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo finds himself at the centre of a criminal investigation involving years-old allegations that he groped, kissed or made suggestive comments to 11 women. Such claims, in this day and age, do not go away and cannot be ignored.

Yet Andrew and his advisers continue to negotiate this torrid landscape with the tact and care of blindfold rhinos hoofing across a bed of eggs. The very least they could do is reframe the situation and rearrange their priorities into something approaching empathy for this woman and her plight. After all, Giuffre is a prominent and public campaigner against alleged sex-trafficking crimes by Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell. By all accounts, she is a victim herself. She deserves to be seen and heard, at the very least.

On the other hand, Prince Andrew has always categorically denied any sexual contact or relationship with Virginia, and there is not a shred of evidence to suggest he had (although a photograph of the two taken in London suggests they have met).

But if he has nothing to hide, why is he in hiding? What purpose does it serve? For a start, there are urgent questions he should be asking about Miss Giuffre’s motivation and some of the glaring discrepancies in her accounts of her meetings with him. Instead, he is damning himself by his own silence and making an entire nation feel uncomfortable. Yet one can see his lawyers’ difficulty. They can barely let the royal boob out of his hutch to order a sandwich on his own, let alone face sustained questioning by razor-sharp legal minds.

The only time the Prince has spoken out was during the BBC interview with Emily Maitlis, in which he wasted no time in digging himself into an even deeper hole, no sweat. The pizza party, the lack of empathy, the general bumptiousness? It was a disaster.

At the moment, Prince Andrew has no legal obligation to talk to anyone: he is not the subject of any criminal investigation and no criminal charges have been brought against him. Despite what his worst enemies think, he remains an innocent man, one with the right to remain silent.

The problem is that his silence is not golden. And it makes him look more tarnished by the hour.


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