herald

Saturday 21 September 2019

Prince Andrew may face lawsuit over sex encounter allegation

Andrew and Virginina Giuffre
Andrew and Virginina Giuffre

A lawyer representing an accuser of convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein who claims she was forced into a sexual encounter with the Duke of York has said a lawsuit may be brought against the British royal.

David Boies has urged the prince to "just come clean", echoing the words of his client Virginia Giuffre, who made a direct appeal to Queen Elizabeth's son earlier this week.

The lawyer said he has asked to interview Andrew and is willing to travel to London.

Suicide

He added that going through the courts could be one course of action.

"One of the options is to bring a lawsuit. I think we and other counsel in the US are exploring what the options and possibilities are. I hope we don't have to go down that road, but we'd be willing to consider it," Mr Boies said

Since Epstein's suicide, there have been a number of reports about his relationship with Andrew, including that the pair travelled together on the disgraced financier's private jet with teenager Virginia Roberts, now known as Giuffre.

Ms Giuffre has claimed in court papers in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was aged 17, under the state's age of consent.

Her allegations, which the prince denies, were struck from US civil court records in 2015 after a judge said they were "immaterial and impertinent".

Buckingham Palace has branded the allegations "false and without any foundation" and "any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors" by the prince was "categorically untrue".

Epstein was found dead on August 10 in his prison cell in New York, where he was being held on sex trafficking charges.

A picture from the early 2000s showing Andrew with his arm around Mrs Giuffre was highlighted by the lawyer, who said: "That has to have an explanation."

The veracity of the photograph has been questioned.

The lawyer added: "I think it's very hard to take the position that you were close and friendly and treating the mansion as your home away from home and yet you were totally unaware of what was going on there."

Andrew has issued a statement, saying about Epstein: "At no stage during the limited time I spent with him did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction."

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