Prince Andrew stands accused by Virginia Roberts Giuffre of se-x-ual assault. She claims it happened in London, New York and the US Virgin Islands, that the prince he knew she was 17 when it started, and that she had been trafficked by the late s*x offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew has consistently denied the claims, telling the BBC in 2019: “It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”
Giuffre is now suing Andrew in New York. The prince’s lawyer says the case is “baseless, non-viable (and) potentially unlawful.” Andrew’s team says he had not been properly served notice of proceedings despite Guiffre’s side saying papers were served at the prince’s home in Windsor.
Andrew’s lawyers also say a 2009 settlement between Giuffre and Epstein released the duke from “any and all liability,” though that settlement was and remains sealed.
Where does the case go from here?
We asked two respected lawyers in the field who aren’t involved in it: Amber Melville-Brown, head of the media and reputation practice at the international law firm Withers, and Nick Goldstone, head of dispute resolution at Ince.
Is the prince going to be served now?
This week, an English court agreed to serve the papers. Melville-Brown says, “it is a matter for the English court to determine the method of service when serving at the request of a foreign court” and that it can be via email, post or in person.
Once the papers are served, what happens?
Melville-Brown says Andrew would have four options: Ignore the claim; contest it; admit it; or, try to settle it. “None are particularly attractive,” she adds, “although he and his team may consider the first and the last may be the least of a bad lot.” Goldstone adds it’s a “fairly binary decision” for Prince Andrew’s legal team: Either engage or evade.
Can he engage and defend his position?
Goldstone says Andrew could say to himself, “I’m not going to participate in this process, because it’s outrageous, and I have further nothing to say.” In effect, he would be refusing to submit to the jurisdiction of the court in this case.
“If he wants to engage and go through the process of civil trial,” says Goldstone, “the simplest thing for him to do is to put in an acknowledgement and say to the New York court: ‘Okay, I’m going to defend this, I’m going to fight this.’ But as I understand it, he is under no obligation to respond and sometimes people choose not to respond because of all sorts of different reasons.”
“Then they are going to be fighting a case within the New York court procedural rules,” says Goldstone, “and that brings with it all sorts of consequences, which may be good or may be bad, depending upon the outcome of that procedure. If you win a case, it’s always a good decision. If you lose a case, it’s more often looked upon as a bad decision. If you choose not to engage and submit to the jurisdiction of the New York court, you’ve got to consider what will the New York court do in your absence? Will it proceed in your absence in a detailed way? Will it proceed in your absence in the summary or default way? And what would the consequences be of an outcome that presumably would be negative because you’re not there to defend yourself? And how enforceable would such a final outcome in a New York court be against you wherever? Obviously it will be enforceable in New York, but Prince Andrew isn’t in New York.”
What if he doesn’t submit to the court and the court finds him guilty?
“He could argue that this is not a judgment that should be enforceable against him,” Goldstone says, noting that Andrew has not participated in the New York court’s proceedings or recognized its jurisdiction to date. The prince may therefore argue that a ruling by the court “shouldn’t be enforced against him because it’s not a claim that could be advanced in England,” which doesn’t have an equivalent to New York’s Child Victims Act, says Goldstone. “And therefore, as a matter of public policy, English courts shouldn’t recognize a judgment that has been obtained in a foreign court.”
Will he be forced to appear in court?
Goldstone: “I believe if he chooses not to engage in, not to submit to the jurisdiction, there is no prospect of him being called to the US … or being deposed or providing evidence or witness testimony in proceedings that he’s not engaged in, that is not recognized. On the other hand, if he does engage, there’s every prospect.”
Prince Andrew has already spoken to the media about these allegations, and it famously backfired, resulting in his having to step back from royal duties. It’s hard to imagine him rushing to go back on the record, especially in court. The negative headlines will keep coming while the case is unresolved, and that must concern the palace communications teams responsible for managing the reputation of the wider monarchy — of which Prince Andrew is still part.
CHARLES’ CHARITY DRAMA
The chairman of Prince Charles’ charitable foundation has resigned, days after a Scottish regulator said it was probing fresh “cash for access” allegations reported by a UK newspaper. The Sunday Times reported that the heir to the throne wrote a thank you letter to Russian banker Dmitry Leus and offered to meet him in person after receiving a six-figure donation to The Prince’s Foundation in May 2020. Leus, who is reportedly seeking British citizenship, made his donation after a fixer promised a private meeting with Prince Charles at a Scottish castle, the Sunday Times reported. The newspaper said there was no evidence that Prince Charles was aware of any deception around the donation.
Foundation chair Douglas Connell said he was “shocked and dismayed by newspaper reports that rogue activity of various kinds may have taken place within and outside the Prince’s Foundation.” Explaining why he was choosing to relinquish his role, he continued: “My view is that the person chairing any organisation should take responsibility if it appears that serious misconduct may have taken place within it.” A Clarence House spokesperson told CNN that Charles “has no knowledge of the alleged offer of honors or British citizenship on the basis of donation to his charities and fully supports the investigation now underway by The Prince’s Foundation.” The Prince’s Foundation is an umbrella organization for several of Charles’ charitable projects.
Connell’s departure comes a week after the head of The Prince’s Foundation temporarily stepped down amid claims of misconduct reported by the same newspaper. Michael Fawcett, Charles’ longest-serving and closest aide, was accused of using his position and influence to help a Saudi businessman obtain an honorary title in exchange for donations.