Prince Andrew has seen his legal team ‘ghosted’ by US prosecutors as they claim to have made repeated offers of help in the Jeffrey Epstein case – including in the last 10 days.
Sources close to the Duke of York’s legal team say they have contacted Department of Justice representatives in the US on a number of occasions since they were first contacted at the beginning of the year.
Andrew, 60, whose close friend Ghislaine Maxwell has been arrested and accused of assisting Epstein’s abuse of minors by helping to recruit and groom underage victims, was described as ‘bewildered’ by the US prosecutors claims of non co-operation.
The informed source said they had been in touch with the DOJ once Geoffrey Berman was replaced as US attorney for the Southern District of New York by Audrey Strauss.
Ms Strauss was appointed on June 22 after Mr Berman was ‘fired’ by Donald Trump.
The initial contact was made at the turn of the year when the DOJ confirmed that the Duke of York was being represented by legal firm Blackfords.
Once contact had been established, the Duke’s team offered co-operation and asked for a framework as to how the US wished to proceed, but there was no reply. The source said his team feel they have ‘effectively been ghosted.’
Another source added today that the prince was still happy to help: ‘The Duke remains willing to offer his assistance.’
Prince Andrew and his friend Ghislaine Maxwell attend Ladies’ Day at Ascot in June 2000
The Prime Minister batted away the suggestion that the US authorities should ask him for help to access to the Duke of York claiming: ‘It’s a matter for the Royal Family’
Last month outgoing Mr Berman clashed with Andrew’s legal team when he claimed the Duke had ‘yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to co-operate’.
Berman claimed Andrew had repeatedly declined requests to schedule an interview.
Last month the Duke’s lawyers said Berman had breached his own confidentiality rules on three occasions and in doing so further diminished their trust in the DoJ’s willingness to play a straight bat.
Victims of Epstein, including Virginia Guiffre have urged the Prince to co-operate in the investigation into those people who helped the multi millionaire abuse young girls in New York, London, Florida and his home in New Mexico.
Boris Johnson today denied the FBI has approached him for help to interview Andrew over his links to the paedophile as he expressed sympathy for their alleged victims.
The Prime Minister batted away the suggestion that the US authorities should ask him for help to access to the Duke of York claiming: ‘It’s a matter for the Royal Family’ as it was revealed the Queen is said to be anxious about the crisis engulfing her son.
But earlier this year Dominic Raab gave tacit confirmation that he would be the point of contact for the US government – but the Foreign Secretary said that there was no ‘deal to be done’ over Prince Andrew.
In contrast London Mayor Sadiq Khan today called on the duke to provide information to the American authoritie and said: ‘I think it’s really important for those of us in positions of power and influence to lead by example. Anybody who’s got information helps the FBI and that includes Prince Andrew as well.’
Boris Johnson was asked about Prince Andrew’s case as US lawyers today piled more pressure on the Duke of York to reveal what he witnessed at paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s mansions following the arrest of Maxwell and declared: ‘He Andrew has a story to tell’.
The Prime Minister told LBC: ‘I think everybody’s sympathies are very much with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein – but you wouldn’t expect me to comment on matters affecting the Royal Family.’
Asked what he would do if the US were to approach the Government to broker talks he said: ‘No such approach has been made and otherwise it is really is a matter for the royal family. No such approach has been made. It is a hypothetical question.’ He added: ‘Of course the law must be carried out and the law must be observed.’
US lawyers Gloria Allred and Spencer Coogan, who are representing alleged victims of Epstein, urged Andrew to give evidence after Maxwell was detained in New Hampshire.
The move piled fresh anxiety on the Queen about what Maxwell’s arrest and knowledge of the alleged activities of Epstein mean for her 60-year-old son.
Daily Mail editor-at-large Richard Kay revealed there will be anger at the prospect of the Royal Family’s good name being dragged through the mud once again.
Andrew secretly met Maxwell at Buckingham Palace on June 6 last year – a fortnight after US prosecutors said they would reopening their inquiry into Epstein.
Maxwell was in London for the Cash and Rocket rally for ’80 of the world’s most successful women’, and was pictured before a photocall at Wellington Arch.
Later that day she and Nettie Mason, the wife of Pink Floyd drummer Nick, left in a Ferrari for the rally which finished in Monaco on June 9, via Paris and Geneva.
One lawyer for some of Epstein’s victims has called on the Duke of York to come forward and speak to US prosecutors about his friendship with the financier.
Spencer Coogan said his clients were ‘relieved’ that Maxwell, who had introduced her friend Andrew to her former partner, had finally been arrested on charges of facilitating Epstein’s sexual exploitation of underage girls.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I certainly think Prince Andrew has a story to tell. On behalf of the victims we have continuously asked him to step forward, step up, be a man and tell us what he knows.
‘He has been hiding behind not only the royal family but his attorneys.
‘Regardless of his position we, on behalf of the victims, hope that he will step forward and speak up about what he witnessed, at the very least when he was visiting the (Epstein) mansion in New York, when he visited the home in Palm Beach and when we know he was down visiting the Virgin Islands’ mansion.’
Lawyer Gloria Allred, who is representing some of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain today that the Duke of York is subjecting them to a ‘torture test’
And lawyer Gloria Allred, who is also representing some of Epstein’s alleged victims, claimed the Duke was subjecting them to a ‘torture test’ by not speaking out about ‘what he knows’.
Ms Allred, who represents some of the victims, said Andrew is ‘avoiding and evading’ US law authorities by not providing a statement.
She told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘The question is, Prince Andrew when is he going to tell what he knows?
‘He needs to do that. He needs to do it without delay. It is so traumatising and difficult for the victims not to know the truth.
‘And this kind of torture test that Prince Andrew is subjecting the victims to, like will he or won’t he give a statement, if he will, when?
‘More excuses, more delays, it really is painful for many of the victims. It’s just not fair.’
Andrew (second left) has said he became friends with Jeffrey Epstein (right) in 1999, after being introduced to him through Ghislaine Maxwell. Pictured: Melania Trump, Andrew, Epstein’s friend Gwendolyn Beck and Epstein at a party at the Mar-a-Lago in Florida in 2000
Ms Allred also told how the Duke could be interviewed in the UK by US law authorities.
She said: ‘I have no doubt they want to talk with him. They’ve indicated they would like to speak with him and this is what acting US attorney Strauss said.
‘This idea that somehow he wants to but he’s not able to – he can do that right there in the UK. I’m sure they would facilitate the interview there.
‘I’m just so tired of the excuses. The victims want the truth, they want the transparency, they want him to tell law enforcement what he knows.’
She added: ‘We know that Prince Andrew was at Epstein’s home in London and in Manhattan and elsewhere.
‘So he is an important person in all of that and if Ms Maxwell decides that she is going to co-operate and talk about Prince Andrew and what he did there, Prince Andrew might want to get to the prosecutors first.’
Andrew is photographed with the disgraced Epstein in New York’s Central Park in 2010
And royal author Nigel Cawthorne said that Andrew will lose all credibility and should be stripped of his title if he does not turn up as a witness if required.
Mr Cawthorne told Good Morning Britain today: ‘If he doesn’t testify he will be discredited and if he does who knows what will come out?’
Andrew has previously claimed he has offered three times to be a witness in the case and has denied any wrongdoing.
It comes as US prosecutors last night urged Andrew to ‘talk to us’ after the FBI arrested Maxwell on child sex charges.
They pounced on the British socialite in a dawn raid on her hideaway in New Hampshire yesterday.
Hours later she appeared in court charged with the sordid abuse of girls as young as 14, including one in London.
Epstein is pictured with Ghislaine Maxwell in New York in 2005. Lawyers for Miss Maxwell have previously said she denies any wrongdoing
In a bombshell press conference, the prosecutors called Andrew’s former friend an ‘unspeakable villain’ who groomed girls for abuse by Epstein and, at times, herself.
But investigators suggested the alleged madam might now become a ‘co-operator’ in their probe into Epstein’s accomplices.
And they renewed their calls for Andrew to talk to them about Epstein as they promised the surprise arrest of Maxwell would not be the end of their inquiries.
A source close to Andrew told the Mail: ‘We remain bewildered that despite our difficulties with the Department of Justice earlier in the year, we have twice in the last month reached out to them to re-engage with the process of the duke helping the inquiry – and have received no response. We remain willing to engage.’
Maxwell has strongly denied any knowledge of or involvement in Epstein’s crimes and in 2011 released a statement that said: ‘The allegations made against me are abhorrent and entirely untrue.’
Andrew spoke to the BBC’s Emily Maitlis for a Newsnight interview in November last year
Amid speculation she could strike a plea-deal to lessen a potential 35-year sentence:
- Maxwell was charged with the sex abuse and trafficking of three children;
- The daughter of the late Robert Maxwell was accused of befriending underage girls and ‘luring’ them into her sordid ‘trap’;
- She spun a web of lies to cover her ‘unspeakable’ crimes against children, it was alleged;
- Maxwell was found hiding in New Hampshire, where the FBI said she had ‘slithered’ away;
- She had ’15 different bank accounts’ boasting $20million (£16million), according to a memo from prosecutors. Her ‘substantial resources’ – she transferred $500,000 between accounts in a single day – made her a high risk of fleeing, according to the memo.
Maxwell last night appeared via video link – owing to coronavirus rules – before the US district court in Concord, New Hampshire.
Asked if she could see the judge and her lawyer, she said ‘I can’ in a cut-glass accent.
Magistrate Judge Andrea Johnstone read Maxwell her rights and no plea was entered.
When asked if she needed consular assistance from another country – she has British, American and French citizenship – Maxwell appeared to indicate ‘No’. At the end of the 20-minute hearing, the judge told Maxwell she would be sent to New York where the charges have been laid.
She added: ‘You’re remanded to the custody of the United States marshals.’
Virginia Roberts Giuffre is not among the three alleged victims.
She alleges that she was Epstein’s sex slave and was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew, a claim he has emphatically and repeatedly denied.
At the press conference, Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York, said of Andrew: ‘We would like to have the benefit of his statement.
Audrey Strauss, Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks during a news conference to announce charges against Ghislaine Maxwell yesterday
‘Our doors remain open. We would welcome him coming in and giving us an opportunity to hear his statement.’
Last night the threat of a legal move in this country was still hanging over the prince. Sources confirmed a special legal request sent to the UK by the US was still being processed.
A specialist unit of civil servants within the Home Office is considering Washington’s application for so-called ‘mutual legal assistance’.
This could potentially lead to Andrew being required to give evidence in a British court regarding Epstein’s activities.
Miss Strauss claimed Maxwell had lied to cover up her crimes ‘because the truth, as alleged, was almost unspeakable’.
Epstein, who was Maxwell’s former boyfriend, hanged himself last August after he was charged with multiple child sex crimes.
One of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, alleges she had sex with the Duke of York three times when she was 17 at the behest of the billionaire paedophile
The charges against Maxwell were yesterday dubbed ‘the prequel’ to that case by prosecutors.
They said Maxwell had groomed three underage girls for abuse in London, New York, Florida and New Mexico between 1994 and 1997. She was last seen ten days after Epstein’s suicide.
William Sweeney, an FBI assistant director, said last night: ‘We announce the arrest of one of the villains in this investigation.’ He said the Crimes Against Children Taskforce had been ‘discreetly keeping tabs on Maxwell’.
He added: ‘We learned she had slithered away to a gorgeous property in New Hampshire, continuing to live a life of privilege while her victims live with the trauma inflicted upon them years ago.
‘Miss Maxwell was arrested without incident. Like Epstein, Miss Maxwell chose to blatantly disregard the law and her responsibilities as an adult, using whatever means she had at her disposal to lure vulnerable youth into behaviour they should never have been exposed to.’