Prince Andrew travelled to Balmoral to stay with the Queen yesterday after being served with a lawsuit accusing him of “rape in the first degree”.
The Duke of York and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson “left Windsor for Scotland hours before a US summons was also sent to his Windsor home”, the i news site reports.
Andrew had crisis talks with the Queen at the Highlands castle last year over his links to convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, after being accused of failing to help US prosecutors in their investigation into the late financier.
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The lawyer representing Virginia Roberts Giuffre - who claims both men sexually abused her when she was a teenager - yesterday said that the duke “cannot hide behind wealth and palace walls”.
Speaking to BBC Newsnight, David Boies said that people “ignore the courts at your peril”, continuing: “At this point, litigation is the only way to establish once and for all what the truth is - and litigation is the only way to establish once and for all what Prince Andrew's evidence actually is.”
Failure to answer to the lawsuit in court would result in “a default judgement against him that will be, in effect, enforced not only in the United States, but in virtually every civilised country in the world”, Boies added.
Giuffre claims that the Queen's second son abused her multiple times in 2001, when she was 17, at Epstein’s Manhattan home, on his private Caribbean island and at socialite Ghislaine Maxwell’s home in London.
Giuffre is seeking compensation that she intends to donate “to a charitable foundation to help victims of sex trafficking”, the BBC reports.
Maxwell has told friends that she “is prepared to give evidence on behalf” of the duke, The Telegraph reports. According to sources, she “would support Prince Andrew’s insistence that he had never had sex” with Guiffre, says the paper.
A longstanding former associate of Epstein, Maxwell is currently in jail in New York awaiting trial in November on sex trafficking charges. She is “a key witness to a number of alleged incidents”, say The Telegraph, but would “need to be cleared of wrongdoing at her own trial if her evidence is to be considered credible in a New York courtroom”.
An unnamed friend said: “By the time the case against the duke gets to court, Ghislaine will either be convicted and serving up to 85 years in jail [or if] cleared of course she would help Prince Andrew. They have been friends for a very long time.
“It is highly likely Ghislaine will offer to assist him.”
Not everyone appears to be rallying to support Andrew, however. Plans for a “birthday tribute” to the royal at Westminster Cathedral have been shelved following the filing of the lawsuit against him, says the Daily Mirror.
“The Abbey says the decision to axe the traditional birthday celebration is due to the Covid pandemic's squeeze on its finances - not the royal scandal,” the paper reports.
All the same, the newly filed legal case and the decision not to mark his birthday with the traditional tolling of the Westminster Abbey’s bells “shatters the duke’s final lingering hope of a return to public life”, The Telegraph says.
He had “planned to rebuild his reputation and had hoped to reframe his role in a way that would allow him to return to public service”, the paper continues.
But royal aides have said that “while family members privately support him, a return to any form of public role could only be considered if it was no longer overshadowed by his link to Epstein”.
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