Prince Andrew will face D-Day today as his lawyers try to throw out his sex assault case after it emerged his accuser signed a $500,000 (£370,000) deal with Jeffrey Epstein agreeing not to take legal action against some of his associates.
The Duke of York’s legal team will today argue in a New York court that the secret compensation deal, made public last night, bars Virginia Roberts from suing him.
The prince’s lawyers will assert that Miss Roberts, now known by her married name of Giuffre, signed away her right to take him to court when, 13 years ago, she accepted the payment from sex offender Epstein.
They will argue the court papers now give them ‘strong legal grounds’ to dismiss the case.
But experts doubted if the ‘vague’ wording really helps Andrew in today’s bid to have the damages case brought by Miss Roberts, who says she was forced to have sex with the duke, thrown out.
Miss Roberts, 38, claims she was 17 when she slept with Andrew three times in 2001 under orders from Epstein, a friend of the duke. She is suing for claims of battery and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Andrew has called her accusations ‘baseless’ and repeatedly denied them, claiming that she is seeking a ‘payday at his expense’.
Prince Andrew will face D-Day today as his lawyers try to throw out his sex assault case after it emerged his accuser signed a $500,000 (£370,000) deal with Jeffrey Epstein agreeing not to take legal action against some of his associates
The Duke of York was photographed with his arm around the bare waist of then 17-year-old Virginia Roberts. In the background, Ghislaine Maxwell. Roberts claims she was forced to have sex with the royal three times
Lawyers for the Duke of York will today argue in a New York court that the secret compensation deal, made public last night, bars Virginia Roberts from suing him
The Epstein settlement, which has long been subject to speculation over its contents, was last night laid bare for the world to see.
It does not mention Andrew by name but his legal team will use it in court today as a reason why Miss Roberts’s claim for unspecified compensation should be dismissed.
They are set to focus on a clause in which Miss Roberts agreed not to pursue anyone connected to Epstein who could be described as a ‘potential defendant’.
The text of the 12-page deal shows she signed to release Epstein’s ‘agent(s), attorney(s), predecessor(s), successor(s), heir(s), administrator(s), assign(s) and/or employee(s)’.
She also agreed not to go after ‘any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant (‘Other Potential Defendants’) from all, and all manner of, action and actions of Virginia Roberts, including State or Federal, cause and causes of action (common law or statutory), suits … and demands whatsoever in law or inequity for compensatory or punitive damages’.
Amber Melville-Brown, a reputation specialist at London law firm Withersworldwide, said if the duke characterised himself as a ‘potential defendant’, it carried risks of its own.
She said: ‘While a court might accept the release releases Prince Andrew from legal liability, no release could hope to release him from the likely lasting damage done to his reputation by his very association with it.’
Nick Goldstone, head of dispute resolution at international law firm Ince, said the settlement would not help Andrew because of the section in which Miss Roberts agreed to release any claims she ‘ever had or now have’.
Mr Goldstone said: ‘Any future claim that may arise is not caught by this settlement agreement. It … doesn’t give the prince a get out of jail free card.’
However, media lawyer Mark Stephens last night told Sky News the deal had ‘real merit’ for the duke, saying: ‘On the face of it, it looks like there is a release here for Prince Andrew.
‘I think this is one of Prince Andrew’s better days in court. I think Virginia’s lawyers will be quite worried by what the terms of the agreement say. This is probably his best chance of getting out [of this case] but I suspect not before an appeal.’
A source close to the duke and his legal team told the Daily Mail: ‘The document forms a central plank of the motion to dismiss.
‘It’s not the only one, as we also believe the lawsuit falls short in many other ways: It is devoid of specifics, there are no dates, no times or locations.
‘But we do believe the Epstein agreement is a very significant and persuasive argument as to why the case should be dismissed.’
Andrew’s attorney Andrew B Brettler, who will represent him in court today, declined to comment.
The developments come at a hellish time for the Duke: last week his former close friend Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of recruiting and trafficking underage girls for Epstein.
She now faces up to 65 years in jail at her sentencing at a later date.
The agreement between Giuffre and Epstein reveals that she accepted $500,000 in order to settle all claims against him.
The settlement between Jeffrey Epstein and Virginia Giuffre has been released. The document makes no mention of Andrew by name
In the 12-page agreement Giuffre agreed to release Epstein’s ‘agent(s), attorney(s), predecessor(s), successor(s), heir(s), administrator(s), assign(s) and/or employee(s)’.
Giuffre also agreed to release ‘any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant (‘Other Potential Defendants’) from all, and all manner of, action and actions of Virginia Roberts, including State or Federal, cause and causes of action (common law or statutory), suits…and demands whatsoever in law or inequity for compensatory or punitive damages’.
In his response to Giuffre’s allegations, the Duke’s lawyer Andrew Brettler argued that since Andrew was identified as ‘royalty’ in her complaint against Epstein, it meant he qualified as somebody covered in the settlement.
Brettler was referring to the fact that Giuffre claimed she was ‘required to be sexually exploited by (Epstein’s) adult male peers, including royalty, politicians, academicians, businessmen, and/or other professional and personal acquaintances’.
Brettler argued that Giuffre dismissed a claim of battery against the lawyer Alan Dershowitz after he raised the same agreement, so she should do the same for the case against Andrew.
Last week the Duke suffered a setback when Judge Kaplan rejected his request to halt the case on the grounds that Giuffre doesn’t live in the US.
Andrew has tried other technical arguments to halt the case and claims that the law that the case was brought under is unconstitutional.
The Duke refused to accept service for weeks until Judge Kaplan asked the British legal authorities to intervene and serve him.
If the lawsuit moves ahead it will go into the discovery phase and Giuffre’s lawyers have already asked for documents that prove Andrew’s bizarre claim in an interview that he doesn’t sweat.
The Duke said this was evidence he didn’t have a sweaty night out dancing at a club in London with Giuffre in 2001 before they had sex as she claims.
Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.
She claims she was trafficked by disgraced financier Epstein to have sex with Andrew when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.
Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies said: ‘Our view, as expressed in our briefs to the Court, is that (1 ) Prince Andrew was not a party to, and did not even know about, the Release; (2) Andrew could not be a ‘potential defendant’ as that term is used in the Release both for the reason he was not subject to jurisdiction in Florida because the abuse happened elsewhere, and for the reason that the claims in Florida were federal claims against people who did the trafficking, not the state law claims made now against Andrew as a person to whom the girls were trafficked; and (3) the actual parties to the Release have made clear Andrew is not covered.
‘But what will matter is what the Court’s view is’.
Brettler declined to comment.
Buckingham Palace ‘sleepwalked’ into the Prince Andrew crisis and has been paralyzed with indecision over how to handle things, it was claimed.
Senior royal insiders said the duke operated with ‘impunity’ as a member of the Royal Family because staff were ‘too scared’ to stand up to him.
And they say the idea he could still return to public life, despite the swirling controversy around his friendship with pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, must be quashed.
The prince was seen in public Friday for the first time since Maxwell was convicted of multiple counts of child sex trafficking for her boyfriend Epstein, driving himself to Windsor Castle.
In his Newsnight interview he also told interviewer Emily Maitlis that on the date Roberts says they slept together in London, he was at a Pizza Express in Woking. He has been told to prove this too.
Miss Roberts, now Giuffre, claims she slept with Andrew three times in 2001, at a time when she was 17 and under the control of Epstein.
The prince vehemently denies the accusations. But pressure has increased on him this week following Maxwell’s conviction.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior former royal adviser stressed that while there was no knowledge of the extent of the duke’s friendship with Epstein and Maxwell to anyone outside of the prince’s private office, the ‘Andrew problem’ was a long-running issue for the royal household in general.
The developments come at a hellish time for the Duke: last week his former close friend Ghislaine Maxwell was convicted of recruiting and trafficking underage girls for Epstein
Prince Andrew came under fire after he was spotted taking a stroll through New York’s Central Park with Epstein following his prison term in 2011
‘Anyone who even dared to offer their professional advice that maybe his way wasn’t the right one was met with a decisive ‘f*** off out of my office’,’ the source said.
The account is backed up by other former royal staff, all of whom claim the prince acted as if he ‘didn’t have to answer to anyone’ and was allowed to ‘go rogue’.
Particularly troublesome, it was said, was Andrew’s role as a roving trade ‘ambassador’, which saw him repeatedly criticized for cozying up to highly controversial world leaders and businessmen.
A former Buckingham Palace staff member recalled how it was an ‘impossible job’ to persuade the prince or his advisers to take any instruction. ‘The duke made clear that the only person he answered to was the Queen,’ they said.
‘He wouldn’t take advice from anyone. [He] acted with total impunity and staff were just too scared to stand up to him as a member of the Royal Family. Her Majesty almost always backed him and he fully exploited that.
‘There’s an element of Buckingham Palace sleepwalking into this whole crisis. Andrew would tell his family that it was all untrue and it would all go away.’
Andrew stepped back from official duties following the Newsnight interview. But the insiders said it was ‘unsatisfactory’ the option of his return to public life remained open. ‘It would be better for all concerned to lance that boil now, once and for all,’ they said.
On Tuesday, Andrew will try again to have the case brought by Miss Roberts thrown out.
But in court papers filed on Friday, her legal team made it clear they would test his Newsnight alibi, when he disputed her claim he was sweating while they danced together in a London nightclub by saying he had a ‘peculiar medical condition’ which made it ‘impossible’ for him to perspire.
Lawyers want the court to order him to hand over proof about his ‘alleged medical condition of anhidrosis’.
And they could ask for his former police bodyguards to testify about the duke’s whereabouts at the time Miss Roberts says they were having sex. Buckingham Palace declined to comment last night.
Andrew faces New York court D-Day TODAY