Prince Andrew in war of words with US prosecutors over Epstein

Row centres on whether Duke of York has cooperated with investigation into child sex offender

Prince Andrew has become embroiled in a war of words with US prosecutors investigating the disgraced financier and child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Lawyers for the Duke of York issued a statement on Monday accusing the American investigators of misleading the public and breaching their own confidentiality rules in their handling of the inquiry.

Blackfords, the London-based criminal law specialists, alleged in a strongly worded two-page statement that the US Department of Justice (DoJ) had effectively rejected three offers of help volunteered by the prince this year.

The firm noted that the DoJ had “advised us that the duke is not and has never been a ‘target’ of their criminal investigations into Epstein” and that they had instead sought his confidential, voluntary cooperation.

Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, responded by publicly accusing Andrew of trying to “falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to co-operate” and said a request to schedule an interview had been repeatedly declined.

The Blackfords statement followed media reports that US authorities had formally requested the prince answer questions on the matter. On Monday the US attorney general, William Barr, stated there were no plans to extradite the prince.

Asked during a Fox News interview on Monday whether the US has officially asked Britain to hand over Andrew, Barr said: “I don’t think it’s a question of handing him over. I think it’s just a question of having him provide some evidence.” Asked if the prince would be extradited, Barr said “no”.

(January 1, 1999) 

In the early 90s, Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of British media tycoon Robert Maxwell, met investment banker and financier Jeffrey Epstein. Their relationship was initially romantic, but it evolved into something more akin to Maxwell being a confidante and personal assistant. 

Prince Andrew was reportedly introduced to Epstein through Maxwell in 1999, and Epstein reportedly visited the Queen’s private retreat in Aberdeenshire.

Some have suggested the introduction was made earlier. A 2011 letter to the Times of London from the prince’s then private secretary, Alastair Watson, suggests Andrew and Epstein knew each other from the early 90s.

(January 1, 2000) 

Andrew, Maxwell and Epstein are seen together at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. Later that year, Epstein and Maxwell attend a joint birthday party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen.

(January 1, 2001) 

Andrew and Epstein holiday together and are pictured on a yacht in Phuket, Thailand, surrounded by topless women. The Times of London reported the prince’s holiday was paid for by Epstein.

In the same year, Virginia Giuffre, then 17, claims to have had sex with Andrew in Maxwell’s home in Belgravia, London. Giuffre, whose surname was Roberts at the time of the alleged incidents, says she slept with Andrew twice more, at Epstein’s New York home and at an “orgy” on his private island in the Caribbean.

(January 1, 2008) 

Epstein is jailed for 18 months by a Florida state court after pleading guilty to prostituting minors.

(January 1, 2010) 

Soon after his release, Epstein is visited by Andrew in New York. The pair are photographed together in Central Park. Footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on 6 December, that appears to show Andrew inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion waving goodbye to a woman from behind a door.

(January 1, 2011) 

Andrew quits his role as UK trade envoy following a furore over the Central Park photos.

(January 1, 2015) 

Allegations that Andrew had sex with Giuffre emerge in court documents in Florida related to Epstein. The papers say she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is below the age of consent under Florida law. Buckingham Palace denies the allegations. The claims against Andrew are later struck from US civil court records following a federal judge’s ruling.

(January 1, 2019) 

Andrew is accused of sexual impropriety by a second alleged Epstein victim, Johanna Sjoberg. She claims he touched her breast at the billionaire’s Manhattan apartment in 2001. Buckingham Palace says the allegations are "categorically untrue".

(August 10, 2019) 

Epstein is found dead in his jail cell after being re-arrested and charged with sex trafficking. A medical examiner says the death was a suicide. A pilot on Epstein’s private jet later that month claims Andrew was a passenger on past flights with the financier and Giuffre.

(November 20, 2019) 

Andrew takes part in a disastrous BBC TV interview during which he claims he could not have had sex with Giuffre because he was at home after a visit to Pizza Express in Woking, and that her description of his dancing with her beforehand could not be true because he was unable to sweat, and that he had "no recollection of ever meeting this lady". After several days of negative reaction, Andrew announces he is to step back from public duties "for the foreseeable future".

(January 27, 2020) 

US prosecutor Geoffrey Berman gives a public statement suggesting there has been "zero cooperation" with the investigation from Andrew.

(June 8, 2020) 

After Berman again claims Andrew has "completely shut the door" on cooperating with the US investigation in March, lawyers for the prince insist he has repeatedly offered to cooperate and accuse US prosecutors of misleading the public and breaching confidentiality.

(July 2, 2020) 

Maxwell, who has seldom been seen in public in recent years, is arrested by the FBI on charges related to Epstein. Unsealed testimony from a 2015 civil case reveal a series of claims about her role in Epstein's sex-trafficking ring, including allegations that she trained underage girls as sex slaves

(September 24, 2021) 

US officials confirm that Prince Andrew has received court papers relating to a sexual assault civil lawsuit from Giuffre, seeking damages. Her lawyers had earlier said the duke had officially been served with the papers, but his legal team had disputed the claim. Two weeks later, a court in New York granted his lawyers permission to see the confidential settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein.

(October 11, 2021) 

The Metropolitan police in London say they are taking no further action after a review of the allegations that Prince Andrew assaulted Giuffre. In August, the Met commissioner, Cressida Dick, had said “no one is above the law” and that she had asked her team to look at the material again.

(December 30, 2021) 

Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial ends with a guilty verdict on five of the six counts she faced.

(January 12, 2022) 

A judge in New York rejects Prince Andrew’s attempt to throw out the sexual abuse civil lawsuit brought against him by Giuffre. The prince's lawyers had attempted to argue that Giuffre’s 2009 settlement with Epstein shielded the duke from her taking legal action against him.

(January 13, 2022) 

Queen Elizabeth II strips her son of a range of military affiliations and royal patronages after more than 150 military veterans write to describe their “upset and anger”.

Epstein was found dead in a New York prison cell last year where he was being held on charges of sex-trafficking girls as young as 14. The prince had known the billionaire since 1999 and stayed at several of his residences.

Andrew has been accused of having sex with a young woman provided by Epstein, Virginia Giuffre, when she was 17 – a claim he categorically denies. In November the prince was interviewed by the Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis about his relationship with the disgraced financier. 

His remarks sparked a public backlash, and a few days later Andrew issued a statement saying that he would “step back from public duties for the foreseeable future”.

The prince, who has always denied any wrongdoing, added: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein ... Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required.”

However, in January, Berman gave a public statement implying there had been “zero cooperation” with the investigation from Prince Andrew. In March, Berman claimed the duke had “completely shut the door” on cooperating with the US investigation.

On Monday, Blackfords hit back, saying in a statement: “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 cooperation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.

“On 27 January 2020, Mr Geoffrey S Berman, the United States attorney for the southern district of New York, chose to make a public statement about the duke. This led to worldwide media reports that there had been ‘a wall of silence’ and that there had been ‘zero co-operation’ by the duke. These statements were inaccurate, and they should not have been made.

“On 9 March 2020, Mr Berman made further public statements saying that the duke had ‘completely shut the door’ on cooperating with the US investigation and that they are now ‘considering’ further options. Again, the first statement was inaccurate and should not have been made.”

The statement added: “It is a matter of regret that the DoJ has seen fit to breach its own rules of confidentiality, not least as they are designed to encourage witness cooperation. Far from our client acting above the law, as has been implied by press briefings in the US, he is being treated by a lower standard than might reasonably be expected for any other citizen. Further, those same breaches of confidentiality by the DoJ have given the global media – and, therefore, the worldwide audience – an entirely misleading account of our discussions with them.”

Later on Monday, Berman issued his own public statement in response, saying: “Today, Prince Andrew yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to cooperate with an ongoing federal criminal investigation into sex trafficking and related offences committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, even though the prince has not given an interview to federal authorities, has repeatedly declined our request to schedule such an interview and nearly four months ago informed us unequivocally – through the very same counsel who issued today’s release – that he would not come in for such an interview.

“If Prince Andrew is, in fact, serious about cooperating with the ongoing federal investigation, our doors remain open and we await word of when we should expect him.”

A Department of Justice spokesperson in the US said it “does not publicly comment on communications with foreign governments on investigative matters, including confirming or denying the very existence of such communications”.


Owen Bowcott and Amy Walker

The GuardianTramp

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