Prince Andrew braced as accuser Virginia Giuffre to be freed from gagging clause
The Duke of York is braced for his sex abuse accuser to return to the public eye as a gagging clause signed by both parties is lifted in February.
Prince Andrew paid millions to settle a civil case with Virginia Giuffre earlier this year, securing a deal that bought him just one-year of silence. The Duke did not admit any wrongdoing as part of the civil case settlement.
However, that agreement will come to an end within weeks, meaning that Ms Giuffre, who now lives in Australia with her husband and children, will be once again likely to be free to talk about the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender.
It raises the prospect that she could resume television interviews, or even write a book.
Ms Giuffre sued the Duke for unspecified damages last year, claiming she was forced to have sex with him on three separate occasions in 2001, when she was 17.
The Duke, who denied any wrongdoing, was determined to take the civil case to trial and clear his name.
But Buckingham Palace urged him to settle as increasingly damaging and lurid claims dominated the news agenda and threatened to overshadow Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
The late Queen was becoming increasingly frail and may have known at the time that she did not have long to live. There was concern that, among other things, the early February announcement that Camilla, the then Duchess of Cornwall - with her mother-in-law’s blessing - would be known as the Queen Consort when Charles acceded the throne would be eclipsed by the ongoing legal battle.
Buckingham Palace announced in January that it had stripped Prince Andrew of all military titles and patronages, ordered him not to use his HRH title and ruled out any return to public duties.
However, the Duke came under intense pressure to strike a deal - eventually announced on February 15 - that would draw a line under the case and allow him to retreat from the public eye.
In order to facilitate the deal, the late Queen contributed to a hefty financial settlement which was accompanied by a 12-month gagging clause, ensuring that neither side could discuss any aspect of the case or the financial deal.
The majority of the $12 million settlement went to Ms Giuffre, while around $2 million was donated to her sex trafficking charity, it is understood.
The inclusion of the gagging clause was considered critical and is understood to have been a prerequisite for the Duke borrowing sufficient money from his family to settle the case.
However, some aides were said to be “incredulous” that Prince Andrew could have paid so much money only to have the allegations repeated after such a relatively short space of time.
A friend said when the deal was signed: "If you’re going to go for legal resolution at those sorts of prices then you want silence - but what we’ve got is silence for the Platinum Jubilee."
The gagging clause will be lifted in late February, although the specific terms of the deal have not been revealed.
It is thought that while Ms Giuffre might be free to speak publicly about her experience of being sex trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell, she may have agreed not to discuss the Duke or repeat her allegations about him.
A spokesman for the Duke declined to comment.