Palace paralysis over Duke’s case: Royal staff ‘sleepwalked’ into Prince Andrew crisis and were ‘too scared’ to stand up to him because he operated with ‘impunity’ within the Royal Family, say insiders as he suffers two setbacks in his US sex case
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 paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, must be quashed.
The comments came as Andrew suffered two setbacks in his US sex case, admitting he has no proof over his infamous claim he cannot sweat and also seeing the judge throw out an attempt to stall the case.
Lawyers for his accuser Miss Roberts, who is suing the prince for damages in a New York civil case, have demanded he hand over evidence he does not perspire, as he said in a car crash Newsnight interview two years ago when denying her allegations.
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. Pictured: Prince Andrew
But his legal team said ‘no documents exist in his possession, custody or control’ to back the claim.
And the judge denied Andrew’s requests to delay the case after he claimed Miss Roberts cannot sue in the US on the grounds that she lives in Australia.
The prince was seen in public yesterday for the first time since his friend, British socialite Ghislaine 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 Miss 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 was seen in public yesterday for the first time since his friend, British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, was convicted of multiple counts of child sex trafficking for her boyfriend Epstein, driving himself to Windsor Castle. Pictured: Prince Andrew and Maxwell in 2000 at Ascot
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.
‘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’.
Pictured: Prince Andrew, Virginia Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2001
Particularly troublesome, it was said, was Andrew’s role as a roving trade ‘ambassador’, which saw him repeatedly criticised for cosying 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 his whole crisis. Andrew would tell his family that it was all untrue and it would all go away.’
Andrew (pictured) stepped back from official duties following the Newsnight interview. But the insiders said it was it was ‘unsatisfactory’ the option of his return to public life remained open
Andrew stepped back from official duties following the Newsnight interview. But the insiders said it was 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 yesterday, 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.
What is Andrew accused of?
The formal allegations are battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Bringing the New York case under her married name of Giuffre, Virginia Roberts alleges she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 and a ‘sex slave’ to his friend, paedophile Jeffrey Epstein. Unlike the Ghislaine Maxwell trial in Manhattan this is a civil case. Miss Roberts is seeking damages, probably totalling millions of pounds. Andrew cannot be jailed.
Where are we at?
The case was filed in August and is still at the early stages. On Tuesday, the judge will rule on a new Andrew application to dismiss it. If it continues there will be the taking of depositions – formal statement given under oath.
Who could be deposed?
Miss Roberts’ lawyer David Boies has said he will seek to depose the duke and possibly his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, among others. Andrew’s side will depose his accuser and her associates, and perhaps her lawyers.
Judge Lewis Kaplan has set a tentative trial date for September, with the case to be decided by a jury made up of a dozen members of the public.
Will Andrew testify?
He can refuse to give a deposition but it could result in a default judgment against him. If he attends the trial, he can decline to give evidence in person, or ‘take the fifth’, refusing to answer questions in order to avoid incriminating himself.
What evidence will be heard?
Miss Roberts will tell her account and bring witnesses she says back up her claims. It is thought she will use flight logs from Epstein’s private jets showing her being flown to locations she claims to have had sex with the duke. Evidence from Maxwell’s trial could also play a part, including testimony from the victim known only as Carolyn, who says she was pulled into Epstein’s sphere by Roberts herself.
What about the FBI wanting to speak to Andrew?
That is separate from this case. The FBI have been looking to speak to Andrew as a possible witness for at least the last two years as they continue to investigate Epstein’s global sex ring. A request filed with the Home Office under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty is currently gathering dust and has not been actioned.
STEPHEN GLOVER: Legal tricks won’t wash any more. Prince Andrew is jeopardising the monarchy
No one can yet answer these questions definitively because no one other than Prince Andrew and a handful of people know whether he is wholly innocent of allegations made by Virginia Giuffre (formerly Roberts) that he sexually abused her in London and New York and on a Caribbean island in 2001 when she was 17.
If he is blameless, as he vehemently insists that he is, it is obviously in his interests and those of the Royal Family for him to strain every sinew to convince the world of his innocence. This he has so far not done.
The spotlight is shining much more powerfully on Prince Andrew writes STEPHEN GLOVER
Until this week the prince had just about got away with a combination of stone-walling, evasion and obfuscation, though at enormous cost to his credibility. The conviction of his friend Ghislaine Maxwell as a child sex trafficker demands an entirely new approach on his part. Things have suddenly got an awful lot worse for him.
The spotlight is shining much more powerfully on Andrew partly because we now know that the woman whom he invited to Balmoral, Windsor Castle and Sandringham is both depraved and wicked.
So that famous photograph of a smiling Prince Andrew with his arm wrapped around the bare midriff of Virginia Giuffre, as Ghislaine Maxwell beams in the background inside her house, inevitably takes on a deeper significance.
What exactly happened that night? What on earth was the 41-year-old prince doing with his arm around a 17-year-old girl who was part of a sex trafficking ring of underage girls nurtured by Maxwell for her friend, the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein?
Prince Andrew pictured during his interview with BBC’s Newsnight in 2019
Virginia Roberts’ statement on Maxwell verdict
My soul yearned for justice for years and today the jury gave me just that. I will remember this day always.
Having lived with the horrors of Maxwell’s abuse, my heart goes out to the many other girls and young women who suffered at her hands and whose lives she destroyed.
I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served. Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.
The spotlight also homes in on Andrew because the allegations of Maxwell’s and Epstein’s victims have now been believed and upheld by a jury, though Virginia Giuffre herself was not called as a witness during the trial.
Can the prince seriously believe that his previous policy of bobbing and weaving – he told BBC’s Newsnight in a disastrous interview in 2019 that he couldn’t even remember meeting Giuffre – is remotely sustainable following Maxwell’s conviction?
Just look at the way he and his lawyers have conducted themselves over recent months. Andrew was accused of trying to ‘dodge, duck, run and hide’ in his mother’s palaces to avoid legal papers being served on him after Virginia Giuffre filed a lawsuit against him. He should have accepted them like a man.
His aggressive US attorney, Andrew Brettler, attempted to argue simultaneously that Giuffre’s claims were ‘baseless and potentially unlawful’ whilst also saying that the court papers had not been properly served. Judge Lewis Kaplan reasonably responded: ‘Let’s cut out all the technicalities and get to the substance.’
In October, the prince’s lawyers changed tack by branding Giuffre as a ‘money-hungry sex kitten’ who had ‘initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday’.
Their latest swerve was to suggest earlier this week that Virginia Giuffre was pretending to be a US citizen but lives in Australia, and therefore the American court lacks jurisdiction to hear the case. The judge will consider the arguments on Tuesday.
Whether in relation to Giuffre’s lawsuit, or to other charges that may lie along the road in the wake of Maxwell’s conviction, Prince Andrew is going to have to stand and defend himself. If he declines to do so, the world will increasingly conclude that he is guilty – with possibly calamitous consequences for the monarchy.
The prince has hitherto conducted himself as though the accusations against him are entirely his business. He apparently believes that if he wishes to give an interview and shoot himself in the foot, or duck court papers, or unleash attack-dog lawyers who use abusive language, it is only a matter for him.
Prince Andrew strongly denies Ms Giuffre’s (pictured at court in New York on August 27, 2019) allegations that he slept with her after she claimed to have been trafficked to him
Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell sits as the guilty verdict in her sex abuse trial is read in a courtroom sketch in New York City on Wednesday
It’s not, of course. Andrew’s reputation is on the line, and he has so far managed to guard it in a spectacularly clod-hopping way. But there is something infinitely more important at stake – the position of Her Majesty the Queen as she approaches the 70th anniversary of the start of her reign.
If the entitled and haughty prince continues to give the impression that he believes there is one set of laws governing the behaviour of people like him, and another for the rest of us, the monarchy is certain to suffer lasting damage.
That is why he must not go on running the show in such an incompetent and haphazard fashion. He should give a proper account of himself, and attempt to explain his close relationship with the child trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell, and with the paedophile Jeffrey Epstein who killed himself in a jail cell.
An innocent man should have nothing to fear from the law. The prince has every right to insist on a fair hearing, but once that right has been granted, evading very serious charges becomes shaming, contemptible and destructive.
He is a foolish man who kept bad company, and is accused of doing bad things. Few people give a fig for him, but millions of us cherish the monarchy. Prince Andrew must not be allowed to bring it to ruin.