Prince Andrew has denied claims that his legal team sought help from a Washington lobbyist with ties to the Trump administration to assist with the fallout of his friendship with a convicted sex offender.
The New York Times alleged Andrew’s lawyers contacted Robert Stryk, who represents people in sensitive diplomatic or legal issues and hired two of Trump’s team after the 2016 election.
The paper claimed Stryk had “expressed discomfort” at the idea of representing the Duke of York, who is embroiled in a war of words with US authorities over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.
A source close to Andrew’s team said: “This looks like a lobby firm advertising. No engagements have been made or sought.”
Stryk did not comment to The New York Times.
Virginia Giuffre has accused the duke, 60, of having sex with her when she was trafficked by Epstein. On one occasion, she says, she was underage in the US.
The duke denies all the allegations and pledged in November that he would co-operate with US authorities investigating the charges against Epstein, who died in prison awaiting trial for sex offences.
No charges have been filed against Andrew, but the FBI has said it would like a statement from him.
That investigation hit a new point on Thursday when former girlfriend and long-term associate of Epstein Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested and charged with helping to lure underage girls who were then sexually abused by the disgraced financier.
Maxwell and Andrew have been friends since their university days, and it is said to be through her that he knew Epstein.
In an interview on BBC Newsnight in November, Andrew claimed his association with Epstein was as a “plus one” of Maxwell.
Stryk runs a firm called Sonoran Policy Group (SPG) that carries out “global private diplomacy”. Little is known about the firm, and its website features only a single webpage with a contact phone number and email address.
Stryk’s firm has reportedly signed deals to represent the administration of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, as well as Africa’s richest woman Isabel dos Santos and associates of a jailed Saudi prince who fell out of favour with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The Trump administration calls Maduro’s administration an “illegitimate and tyrannical regime intent on destroying democratic institutions, abusing human rights, engaging in rampant corruption”.
According to Politico, Stryk helped set up a call between Trump and New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern in the weeks after the US election. Shortly after, SPG was reportedly hired by the NZ government.
Yahoo UK has contacted SPG for a comment.