Prince Andrew ‘angry and bewildered at claims of zero cooperation with Epstein probe’

Chris Baynes
Getty

The Duke of York is reported to be “angry and bewildered” at a US prosecutor’s claim he has provided “zero cooperation” over the Jeffrey Epstein sex abuse probe.

A source insisted Prince Andrew was “happy to talk to the FBI” but “hasn’t been approached by them yet” about the investigation into the disgraced financier’s alleged trafficking.

The statement – on which Buckingham Palace refused to comment – directly contradicted remarks made on Monday by prosecutor Geoffrey Berman.

The New York state attorney told a press conference the FBI and federal prosecutors had each contacted the duke’s lawyers and asked to interview him about Epstein.

“To date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation,” Mr Berman said.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the statement and referred all enquiries to the duke’s legal team, who initially offered no response.

But Wednesday’s Daily Telegraph quoted “a source close to Andrew” who insisted the royal was “committed to the legal process”.

“The duke is more than happy to talk to the FBI but he hasn’t been approached by them yet,” the source said. “He is angry about the way this is being portrayed and bewildered as to why this was said in New York. It seems certain people are jumping the gun.”

Mr Berman's office did not immediately respond to The Independent’s questions about investigators' contact with the royal’s lawyers. The FBI declined to comment.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said it was “a matter for the duke’s legal team,” who she refused to identify.

In an interview with Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis in November, Prince Andrew admitted he would be “duty bound” to answer questions about Epstein if the investigation reached his door.

After stepping back from royal duties amid the furore following that interview – in which he said he did not regret his friendship with the convicted child sex offender – he again stressed his readiness to co-operate with the probe.

“I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency,” the duke said.

Lawyers representing Epstein’s accusers urged the prince to “stop playing games” and “do the right thing” after Mr Berman went public on Andrew’s apparent refusal to co-operate.

“This is ridiculous. It’s just not acceptable,” Gloria Allred, who represents five alleged victims, told BBC Radio 4’s Today. “Prince Andrew has a moral obligation to volunteer to speak to law enforcement – that’s what he said he would do.”

Lawyers could “seek to subpoena Prince Andrew” in their civil lawsuit, she said.

Another lawyer, Lisa Bloom, suggested Mr Berman had been left with “no choice” but to comment publicly because he did not have the power to subpoena the royal as part of the criminal investigation.

The prosecutor did not go into detail on what information investigators were seeking from Prince Andrew, but he said Epstein “couldn’t have done what he did without the assistance of others”.

One of Epstein’s alleged victims, Virginia Guiffre, has alleged she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17. The duke denies any wrongdoing.

Read more

Can Prince Andrew be arrested for refusing to cooperate with the FBI?

Lawyers for Epstein accusers warn Prince Andrew could be subpoenaed

Prince Andrew ‘providing zero cooperation’ to Epstein sex abuse probe