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Prince Andrew, 60, withdrew from his royal role last November after giving a TV interview about his controversial friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. The disgraced billionaire was found dead in a New York jail cell last August where he was awaiting trial for child sex trafficking charges.
Epstein’s ex-girlfriend, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, is a close friend of the Duke of York’s and is understood to be who first introduced him to Epstein.
Ms Maxwell was arrested at her New England home on July 2 and appeared in court in New York via video link on Tuesday where she denied all charges against her.
The indictment says Ms Maxwell “assisted, facilitated, and contributed to Jeffrey Epstein’s abuse of minor girls by, among other things, helping Epstein to recruit, groom and ultimately abuse victims known to Maxwell and Epstein to be under the age of 18”.
Prosecutors allege that between 1994 and 1997, Ms Maxwell helped Epstein groom girls as young as 14.
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She could face up to 35 years in prison if convicted.
Ms Maxwell pleaded “not guilty” and was denied her bail by a New York judge. Her trial has been set for July 2021.
What is next for Prince Andrew?
The scandal surrounding Prince Andrew’s links to Epstein has not gone away as the FBI continues its probe.
In a statement announcing his withdrawal from public life last year, the Duke of York said: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.
“His suicide has left many unanswered questions, particularly for his victims, and I deeply sympathise with everyone who has been affected and wants some form of closure.
“I can only hope that, in time, they will be able to rebuild their lives. Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”
However, Prince Andrew has since been accused of not cooperating by the US authorities.
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Last month the Duke’s lawyers hit back at accusations that the Duke had not been willing to help with the investigation claiming.
Andrew’s legal team stated: “The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ.
“Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the duke has offered zero co-operation.
“In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.”
The FBI is not investigating Prince Andrew in relation to criminal charges but is seeking his help in giving information about Epstein.
According to one royal expert, Ms Maxwell’s bail hearing in New York puts added pressure on the Duke to “get the interview with the FBI out of the way.”
Nigel Cawthorne, author of Prince Andrew, Epstein and the Palace told Express.co.uk: “The developments in New York considerably increase the pressure on Prince Andrew to get the interview with the FBI out of the way.
“The sooner he does, the more convincing his testimony will come across.”
Ms Maxwell’s not guilty please comes after a leading extradition lawyer said it was very unlikely the Americans would back down on wanting Prince Andrew to talk in person.
Karen Todner said: “My experience of the Americans in judicial proceedings is that they feel they police the world and that what they say goes, and you’ve got to have a fairly compelling reason for what they want, not to happen.”
Prince Andrew has always denied witnesses anything improper during his time with Epstein.
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