Prince Andrew's demand for trial by jury 'is a message to bring it on'
The Duke of York's demand for a jury trial is him telling his accusers to "bring it on", a legal commentator has claimed.
Experts had predicted Andrew would seek a settlement after the Queen stripped him of his military roles but court documents showed that he has decided to face Virginia Giuffre, who has brought a civil sexual assault case against him, in court.
Andrew strenuously denies all the allegations against him.
Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg told BBC Breakfast: “Those (a trial by jury) are certainly the words with which this page 11 defence ends but it was Giuffre who asked for a jury trial, demanded a jury trial, in her claim.
"And so what you’ve really got here is Prince Andrew saying, ‘Bring it on. You want a jury trial? I want a jury trial. You want to bring these claims? Well, in that case, you have to prove everything that you’re saying, because I’m not going to admit to anything’."
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He added the case could still settle out of court but added that “nevertheless the prince is saying that he denies everything”.
The duke submitted 11 reasons why the case should be dismissed, including that Giuffre’s claims are "barred by the doctrine of consent" and by "her own wrongful conduct".
But in the same court document, Andrew’s lawyers concluded: “Prince Andrew hereby demands a trial by jury on all causes of action asserted in the complaint.”
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David Boies, who is representing Giuffre in her lawsuit against Andrew, said his client and legal team were looking forward to “confronting” the royal about his “denials”.
Giuffre is suing the duke for damages in her home country of the US, claiming she was trafficked by disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, Andrew’s friend and a convicted sex offender, to have sex with the royal when she was 17, a minor under US law, at the London home of disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell in the early 2000s.
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The duke is also alleged to have sexually abused Giuffre during a visit to Epstein’s private island, Little St James, and on a separate occasion at the financier’s Manhattan mansion.
Maxwell was recently convicted of sex trafficking at a court in New York, she has not yet been sentenced but could face life in prison.
The duke has also denied that he refused to cooperate with US authorities in their investigation and prosecution of Epstein.
Andrew’s lawyers have also stated he did not throw Maxwell a birthday party at Sandringham, and “lacked sufficient information to admit or deny” inviting Epstein to his daughter’s 18th birthday party a month after the financier became a convicted sex offender.
Media lawyer Mark Stephens said the trial, and the legal proceedings before it, will overshadow the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and threaten the existence of the monarchy by sparking a “debate about the relevancy and appropriateness of the royal family”.
Stephens said any trial could have far-reaching consequences for the monarchy: "I can’t conceive that the royal family will allow him to run this case and overshadow the Platinum Jubilee.
"It’s going to spark a debate about the relevancy and appropriateness of the royal family and we’ve already seen that they moved very fast to strip him of his titles and that debate abated, but the more detail that comes out the more there’s going to be a problem for the wider royal family."