Prince Andrew: underage sex claims to be struck off the record

US judge said claims were 'unnecessary' to proceedings, but expressed no opinion on their 'validity or veracity'

Prince Andrew in Davos, Switzerland, 2015
(Image credit: Michel Euler-WPA Pool/Getty)

Allegations that an underage girl was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew will be struck from the record of a civil court case in the United States, a judge in Florida has ruled.

"At this juncture in the proceedings, these lurid details are unnecessary," Judge Kenneth Marra ordered.

However, he expressed no opinion as to the "validity or veracity" of the allegations against the Duke of York, the BBC's royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell reported.

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Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Duke had been notified of the ruling, and would be spending the week out of the media spotlight before returning to his public duties next week.

Former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, who was accused alongside the Duke, said he felt completely vindicated by the decision to strike off the "salacious pleadings".

Virginia Roberts, who worked as a masseuse for convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, claims she was forced to have sex with the Duke and other "politically connected and financially powerful people" when she was 17.

She alleges that forced sexual encounters with the Duke occurred on three separate occasions, including once as part of an orgy. The Duke and Buckingham Palace have “emphatically" denied all allegations.

The ruling means Roberts will not be allowed to join a lawsuit filed by two unnamed women against the US government, a case that deals with the plea bargain offered to Epstein in 2008.

However, the judge said she may still be called as a witness when the long-running case eventually goes to trial, The Guardian reported.

Her attorneys have said they "absolutely respect" the judge's ruling, and Roberts said she was "happy to get to participate in this important case" as a witness.

For now at least, "the judge's decision does appear to be the end of Prince Andrew's association with the case," said the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan.

Prince Andrew publicly denies underage sex allegation

January 23

Prince Andrew has taken the highly unusual step of publicly acknowledging claims he slept with an underage "sex slave", issuing a rebuttal of the allegations during a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. But by addressing the claims the Prince has taken "an almost unprecedented step for a senior royal", says The Independent.

Virginia Roberts, now 31 and a mother of three, has claimed she was forced to sleep with the Prince when she was underage by his former friend, the convicted sex offender and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

An embarrassing photo has appeared showing the Prince with his hand on the woman's hip but he strongly denies the allegations.

In light of the claims, The Independent says some analysts felt he should stay away from the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos.

Addressing an audience of UK business leaders in a private capacity - he stepped down from his official role as UK trade ambassador in 2011 - the Prince’s voice was heard to shake.

He said: "For the record I refer to events that have taken place in the last few weeks. I just wish to reiterate and to reaffirm the statements which have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace."

The palace has issued two separate statements "emphatically" denying Roberts' allegations.

The Prince, who is 54, added: "My focus is on my work and this evening's reception allows me to tell you about just a couple of the initiatives I have founded and am passionate about."

Prince Andrew then spoke about his work promoting entrepreneurs. After the speech, he stayed at the glitzy reception for an hour and half, says the Independent. Also present were "the cream of British business".

Guests included BT chief executive Gavin Patterson, Prudential chairman Paul Manduca, Diageo boss Ivan Menezes, former Barclays boss Bob Diamond, Lord Mandelson - and even Tony Blair and Cherie Booth who "looked in for five minutes".

As the Prince left the event, a member of the press asked: "Will you be making a statement under oath?" He refused to answer.

Prince Andrew asked to address sex claims under oath

22 January

Prince Andrew has received a formal request to respond under oath to allegations that he "sexually abused" an underage girl in 2001.

Lawyers representing Virginia Roberts have filed fresh documents in a US court and sent an official letter to the prince, requesting that he address the claims in a two-hour interview.

Buckingham Palace reportedly refused to accept the letter, which is said to have included a photograph of the prince posing with his arm around Roberts. The palace issued two separate statements "emphatically" denying the allegations when they were first made.

Roberts, who worked as a masseuse for the financier and convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, alleges she was kept as a "sex slave" and forced to have sex with a number of his influential friends, including the Duke of York and the prominent American lawyer Alan Dershowitz. Both men strongly deny the claims.

In the new document, Roberts reasserts her claim that forced sexual encounters with the prince occurred on three separate occasions, including once as part of an orgy. She says she was aware that he was a member of the British royal family, but that she just called him "Andy", the BBC reports.

"Her lawyers say she has taken this step because she stands by her story, and has been hurt by denials from Buckingham Palace," BBC correspondent Rajini Vaidyanathan reports.

The request came as Prince Andrew prepares to make a televised keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It is believed that he will use his first public appearance since the allegations were made to address the "elephant in the room" head-on, the Daily Telegraph reports.

A Buckingham Palace spokesperson said "we would not comment on speculation about what the Duke might say".

Prince Andrew 'considering television denial of sex claims'

19 January

Prince Andrew is reportedly considering whether to make a televised statement on claims that he "sexually abused" a 17-year-old girl.

Virginia Roberts, now 30, worked as a masseuse for the convicted child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and claims she was forced to have sex with several of his friends, including the Duke of York.

Buckingham Palace has "emphatically" denied the claims, but Prince Andrew is yet to speak out personally.

The Daily Telegraph suggests he might invite media to hear a public statement on Thursday when he attends the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where he will be promoting his Pitch@Palace business initiative for young entrepreneurs.

The newspaper suggests he will refer to the claims indirectly, but make "a vigorous denial of the allegations".

The Mail on Sunday says a televised statement would be the "first example of a senior royal discussing intimate details of their private lives since Princess Diana's sensational Panorama interview in 1995".

A "friend" of the Duke told the Mail: "This will hopefully be a chance for Prince Andrew to draw a line under the Epstein business and move on."

Dragon's Den star and entrepreneur Peter Jones has defended the prince. "You're almost doomed before you start with any level of accusation, but the work he does is incredibly important to this country," he said. "We forget sometimes that everyone is innocent until proven guilty."

In Florida court papers, Roberts, who says she was Epstein's "sex slave", claimed she was paid £10,000 for sleeping with the Duke in 2001, and that he had sex with her after she gave him an "erotic massage" when she was below the age of consent in Florida.

Buckingham Palace said: "It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. Any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation."

Prince Andrew sex claim: US lawyer 'thrilled' to be sued

07 January

Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard Law professor accused of having sex with an underage girl in a case that also names Prince Andrew, is being sued for defamation by the woman's lawyers.

In what the Boston Globe calls a rapidly evolving "high-stakes legal drama", the two lawyers, Bradley Edwards and Paul Cassell, accuse Dershowitz of initiating a "massive public media assault" on their reputations by accusing them of intentionally lying in their filing.

The original filing contained claims made by Virginia Roberts, who worked as a masseuse for the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Roberts alleges that she was forced to have sex with several of Epstein's powerful friends and associates, including Prince Andrew and Dershowitz, when she was a minor.

Earlier this week, Dershowitz filed a sworn statement denying the allegations and requesting that his name be removed from court documents. Buckingham Palace has also vehemently denied the claims, but no legal action has yet been taken on behalf of Prince Andrew.

Dershowitz has welcomed the suit, saying he was "thrilled", as it would give him the opportunity to "depose them" and "prove beyond any doubt that they concocted the entire story out of whole cloth and they did not do a proper investigation."

Edwards and Cassell said Dershowitz defamed them when he accused them of "deliberate misconduct and unethical behaviour warranting disbarment" during interviews with several US media outlets, Reuters reports.

They maintain that the original allegations were filed "in fulfilment of their obligation" to their client and that Dershowitz's defamatory statements were made in "reckless disregard" in order to protect his reputation.

Prince Andrew sex claim: US lawyer takes legal action

6 January

Alan Dershowitz, the prominent American lawyer accused of having sex with an underage girl in a case that also names Prince Andrew, has taken legal action to protect his reputation.

The accusations were made by Virginia Roberts, who alleges that she was forced to have sex with "politically connected and financially powerful people" including Prince Andrew and Dershowitz when she was 17 years old. Both men vehemently deny the claims.

The allegations surfaced in a series of cases involving the billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted of a sex offence with a minor in 2008.

Dershowitz has asked for his name to be removed from court documents that accuse him of having sex with a minor. In the papers filed to a Florida court, Dershowitz says his reputation has been damaged by "absolutely outrageous claims", the BBC reports.

The former Harvard Law Professor previously told the BBC that his goal was to bring charges against the client and require her to speak in court. He also urged Prince Andrew to take his own legal action against the claim.

"If she believes she has been hurt by me and Prince Andrew, she should be suing us for damages," he said.

Roberts, who was working as Epstein's masseuse at the time, stands by her claims and says that she was "not going to be bullied back into silence".

Buckingham palace has issue two separate statements "emphatically" denying the allegations made against the Prince, describing them as "false and without any foundation."

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