The Duke of York’s accuser has signed a multi-million dollar deal to write her memoir in which she is expected to detail the years of sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of Jeffrey Epstein and others.
The revelation is likely to cause consternation in Prince Andrew’s camp, not least as he eyes a potential return to public duties with an audacious plan to clear his name.
The Duke is currently consulting lawyers with a view to overturning the multi-million-pound settlement he struck with Virginia Giuffre last February, confident that her credibility has been severely compromised and that he may be able to win a retraction or even an apology after she accused him of raping and abusing her three times in 2001 when she was 17.
The details of Ms Giuffre’s book deal have not yet been announced and the publisher is unknown.
However, the timing is hardly coincidental. It comes as a one-year gagging clause, signed by Ms Giuffre and the Duke as part of their out-of-court deal, is lifted next month.
While the terms of the agreement have remained tightly under wraps, it is likely to mean that Ms Giuffre, who now lives in Australia, will be free to talk again about the years of abuse she suffered at the hands of Epstein, the convicted sex offender.
Given the vast sums at stake - the Duke is understood to have paid around $12 million to settle the case - legal experts believe, however, that she may have agreed never to speak publicly again about the Duke or to repeat the allegations against him.
Regardless, neither the Duke nor the Royal family will relish the renewed spotlight on the sex scandal just months ahead of the King’s May 6 coronation.
Prince Andrew had always planned to take his civil case with Ms Giuffre to trial, convinced he would be exonerated.
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.
Much has changed since then.
In November, Ms Giuffre dropped her sexual abuse claim against US lawyer Alan Dershowitz, admitting after an eight-year legal battle that she “may have made a mistake” in claiming he had abused her as a teenager.
The Duke is understood to believe that the “extraordinary” development prompted serious questions over her credibility and offered renewed hope to clear his name.
With the Queen now gone and the 12-month gagging clause due to lift, he is cautiously optimistic that he may yet be exonerated.
The publication of a memoir raises the prospect that Prince Andrew’s legal team will have another opportunity to cast doubt on Ms Giuffre’s version of events.
They will prepare to go through it with a fine tooth comb in the hope that her words contradict any evidence provided in court or break the terms of the court settlement.
Ms Giuffre’s last attempt at writing a memoir certainly played into their hands.
A 139-page manuscript called The Billionaire’s Playboy Club was released in a batch of court records related to her lawsuit against shamed British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, which was settled in May 2017.
In it, she detailed various encounters she had with Epstein and associates of the late disgraced financier while being held as a sex slave for more than two years from the age of 17, writing about how she was “pimped” out to high-profile men, including Prince Andrew and Donald Trump’s former lawyer, Mr Dershowitz.
“It wasn’t easy meeting the sexual desires of these strange men, the Prince being one of them,” she claimed in the book, which was never published.
Ms Giuffre has said the manuscript is “99 per cent true’, although her lawyers have been forced to admit that at least some of it was “fictionalised”.
It included a description of a two-night liaison she allegedly had with the Duke in New Mexico, which she later acknowledged had never happened.
Meanwhile, Ms Giuffre dropped her sexual abuse claim against Mr Dershowitz.
The Duke’s lawyers sought to have the manuscript considered as evidence in their civil case but the request was rejected by the judge.
Representatives for both Ms Giuffre and the Duke were unavailable for comment.