Prince Andrew: Chris Ship discusses royal 'silence'
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Prince Andrew faces allegations made by Virginia Giuffre, formally known as Virginia Roberts, who claims that she was forced by Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with the Duke on three separate occasions between 2000 and 2002 while underage. The Duke of York’s London-based legal team planned to approach the proceedings in last night’s hearing in completely different means, but the appointment of US counsel had forced a change of tack.
Prince Andrew’s British legal team intended to “stonewall” proceedings in the sexual assault civil case facing the royal, by planning to not take part in Monday’s pre-trial hearing in New York.
However, a change of approach came after Hollywood lawyer Andrew Brettler was appointed lead counsel for the senior royal, who warned against ignoring the judge’s order.
Mr Brettler, a top US lawyer, is known for previously representing several high-profile celebrities accused of sexual assault, including director Bryan Singer, actor Armie Hammer and comedian Chris D’Elia, all three of whom denied the charges made against them.
In addition to being named among the Hollywood Reporter’s 2021 Top 100 “power lawyers”, attorney Mr Brettler has also previously been vocal about the MeToo movement, stating there was an “assumption of wrong-doing just based on an accusation, even an anonymous one”.
In the legal case, Virginia Giuffre is accusing Prince Andrew of sexually abusing her as a teenager, and the second son of Queen Elizabeth II is being sued for undisclosed damages.
The Duke of York has categorically denied the claims, and in a BBC 2019 Newsnight interview, Andrew said: “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”
Andrew Brettler was instructed by the Duke of York about a fortnight ago, but his involvement in the civil case was kept under wraps so that lawyers representing Ms Giuffre could not serve him with the lawsuit.
Hours before Monday’s hearing, Mr Brettler made his involvement in the civil suit known, after he re-rerouted the approach to the proceedings.
During the court hearing, Mr Brettler rejected the claims made by Ms Guiffre dismissing them as “baseless”, and the Duke’s lawyer argued that the royal had not been correctly served.
He also made reference to a “secret settlement agreement” Ms Giuffre had previously made with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2009, in which she allegedly vowed not to take further action against the financier or his associates.
The agreement reportedly prompted the dismissal, by consent, last month of another civil claim made by Ms Giuffre, this time against Alan Dershowitz, Epstein’s former lawyer.
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Mr Dershowitz had asked the judge in that case, Loretta Preska, to make the settlement available to Prince Andrew’s lawyers, believing it would see the “releasing [of] the Duke and others from any and all potential liability”.
However, David Boies, the lawyer for Ms Guiffre, called upon Mr Dershowitz’s judge personally in a letter and also stated that if the Duke wished to access the document, he should apply through Lewis Kaplan, the judge in his own case.
Mr Boies asked Ms Preska to prevent the disclosure of the material, as there was “no evidence” that the agreement was ever intended to include the Duke.
During the pre-trial hearing, the lawyer for Ms Guiffre addressed judge Lewis Kaplan, telling him that the Duke’s legal team should not be seeking disclosure of the agreement until he “makes an appearance” in the case.
Despite the non-release of the agreement as of yet, the Duke’s lawyers are reportedly remaining confident that the content of said agreement will allow them to strike out Ms Giuffre’s claim.
However, American attorney Lisa Bloom, who represented eight of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims and settled five of their claims, rebuffed the idea.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think the case is going to proceed.
“I think Prince Andrew is trying to dodge and hide and duck service, which is not a good look for him.”
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