Judge Refuses To Drop Civil Case Against Prince Andrew

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  • Prince Andrew, Duke of York
    Prince Andrew, Duke of York
    Second son and third child of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (born 1960)
  • Virginia Giuffre
    Alleged victim of the underage sex trafficking ring operated by Jeffrey Epstein
Virginia Giuffre served Prince Andrew with legal papers in September 2021 (Photo: PA Media/Reuters)
Virginia Giuffre served Prince Andrew with legal papers in September 2021 (Photo: PA Media/Reuters)

Prince Andrew’s motion to get the civil case against him dropped has been dismissed by a New York federal judge, meaning it will now go to trial.

In the civil case, Virginia Giuffre accuses the Duke of York of having sex with her when she was 17 – and therefore a minor – in 2001.

Andrew has consistently denied the allegations.

Giuffre also alleges that she was trafficked to the royal by the late convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell between 2000 and 2002.

What was the hearing about?

The judge’s decision followed a hearing last Tuesday, where Andrew’s legal team suggested a newly-released document dating back to 2009 actually prevented Giuffre from making any claims about the royal.

In the previously confidential agreement, Giuffre, formerly known by the surname Roberts, agreed to “release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge” Epstein.

She also gave up her right to make a legal claim “against any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant from all, and all manner of action and actions of Virginia Roberts” in exchange for $500,000 (£371,722).

The document reads: “As a material consideration in settling, First Parties and Second Parties agree that the terms of the Settlement Agreement are not intended to be used by any other person nor be admissible in any proceeding or case against or involving Jeffrey Epstein, either civil or criminal.”

Andrew’s lawyers argued that this meant Giuffre could not file a lawsuit against him as he was a “potential defendant”, especially as she had mentioned “royalty” elsewhere in the 2009 case.

However, Giuffre’s team claimed this was a confidential agreement between Epstein and Giuffre – not Andrew.

Ms Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies argued: “He was somebody to whom the girls were trafficked – that’s a different criteria.”

Andrew was friends with the late, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein (Photo: Davidoff Studios Photography via Getty Images)
Andrew was friends with the late, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein (Photo: Davidoff Studios Photography via Getty Images)

What did the judge conclude?

On Wednesday, Judge Kaplan decided that the 2009 Agreement did not apply to Andrew – and so dismissed his motion to drop the case.

He explained: “For the foregoing reasons, defendant’s motion to dismiss the complaint or for a more definite statement is denied in all respects.

“Given the court’s limited task of ruling on this motion, nothing in this opinion or previously in these proceedings properly may be construed as indicating a view with respect to the truth of the charges or countercharges or as to the intention of the parties in entering into the 2009 agreement.”

He continued: “The 2009 agreement cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, the parties intended the instrument ‘directly’, ‘primarily’ or ‘substantially’ to benefit Prince Andrew.

“The law prohibits the court from considering at this stage of the proceedings defendant’s efforts to cast doubt on the truth of Ms Giuffre’s allegations, even though his efforts would be permissible at trial.

“In a similar vein and for similar reasons, it is not open to the Court now to decide, as a matter of fact, just what the parties to the release in the 2009 settlement agreement signed by Ms Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein actually meant.”

Andrew has not been a working member of the Royal Family since November 2019 (Photo: CHRIS JACKSON via Getty Images)
Andrew has not been a working member of the Royal Family since November 2019 (Photo: CHRIS JACKSON via Getty Images)

What else do we know about the civil case?

Giuffre filed the lawsuit back in August 2021 and Andrew was served with his papers around September. She isseeking unspecified damages from the royal.

There has been speculation that the royal’s lawyers may try to reach an agreement with his accuser to avoid the trial going ahead.

There is no indication that Andrew is under a criminal investigation, and he has not been charged with any criminal offences. He vehemently denies the allegations against him.

The civil trial will be held between September and December, meaning Giuffre could provide a detailed account of her allegations in open court.

It remains unclear if the Duke of York will give evidence in person or video link – he could also decline to participate.

The trial will cast a shadow on what should be a year of celebration for the Royal Family, as it is coming up to the Queen’s 70th year on the throne.

Andrew is no longer a working royal, having stepped back from his duties following the backlash from his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview in November 2019 about Giuffre’s allegations.

Buckingham Palace refused to comment, according to Sky News’ Sarah-Jane Mee, explaining: “We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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