Can Prince Andrew be subpoenaed in Jeffrey Epstein case?
US investigators consider options as Andrew ‘completely shuts the door’ to co-operation
Prince Andrew will not voluntarily co-operate with US officials investigating the case of the deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, it has been claimed.
Investigators are considering further options now that the Duke of York has “completely shut the door”, a New York prosecutor said on Monday.
The Prince was once a friend of Epstein, who died last year while in custody awaiting trial for sex trafficking.
Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney in Manhattan, said: “Contrary to Prince Andrew’s very public offer to co-operate with our investigation into Epstein’s co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary co-operation and our office is considering its options.”
Andrew said in November 2019 that he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations if required”.
Andrew denies all claims of sexual misconduct relating to the Epstein case, and having had sex with Giuffre.
He has previously been said to be “angry” and “bewildered” over accusations that he has failed to co-operate with US authorities over the Epstein investigation.
But can he be forced to help with their enquiries?
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What is a subpoena?
A subpoena is court-ordered demand for a person to take part in legal proceedings, generally by appearing in court or producing documentation.
Other demands can include providing medical information, DNA samples, computer files and equipment, tax information and photographs and other media.
A person failing to comply with a subpoena may face civil or criminal penalties, such as fines, imprisonment, or both, says legal website FindLaw.
How would it work for Andrew?
If someone ignores a subpoena, investigators can ask a judge to issue a warrant to compel the person to adhere to it.
“But such tactics are much more difficult if the person in question is a foreign citizen living abroad – not to mention a member of the British royal family,” says The New York Times. “The United States government would have to ask the United Kingdom to extradite the Duke of York as a material witness, a highly unusual proceeding.”
But if the Duke visits the US of his own volition, then the hurdle of extradition is removed.
A lawyer to five of Jeffrey Epstein’s victims told BBC Radio 4 in January that she was among a number of lawyers who would want to subpoena Andrew if he returned to the US.
Gloria Allred told the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We could, also, in our civil lawsuit, seek to subpoena Prince Andrew. Certainly, if he ever came back to the United States - that would be one of the first things that I'm sure a lot of lawyers, including me, would want to do.
“If he has done nothing wrong, which appears to be what he has claimed, then why won’t he talk to law enforcement?
“No response is the same as zero co-operation. This is ridiculous. It’s just not acceptable. This is a disservice to the victims,” said The Telegraph in January.
Lawyers for Prince Andrew are thought to have assessed the evidence against the Duke and concluded that the US does not have the power to subpoena him, The Telegraph now reports.