Prince Andrew accused of ‘playing hide and seek’ to avoid sex assault lawsuit
But US judge rules legal papers can be served to Duke of York’s LA-based lawyers
Prince Andrew has been “actively evading” formal efforts to serve him with a lawsuit alleging that the royal repeatedly abused a teenage girl, lawyers have claimed.
Papers filed yesterday in a New York court by the legal team representing accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre claim that the Duke of York has been playing “a game of hide and seek behind palace walls”. Her team “sought intervention from district judge Lewis Kaplan, with lawyers accusing the duke of dodging the papers”, Sky News reported.
As evidence of their efforts to serve the Duke with the suit, “they enclosed photographs of an envelope containing the suit being posted into a British post box, with a first-class stamp”, said The Times. The lawyers also “attached a delivery notice from FedEx, a delivery confirmation from a London courier company, and copies of automated email acknowledgments from lawyers who have represented the duke in past cases”, the newspaper added.
The suit was filed in New York last month by Giuffre, who accuses the prince of sexually abusing her when she was 17. Andrew has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Her lawyers have since tried to serve him with the lawsuit at his Royal Lodge residence at Windsor, but Andrew has been staying at the Queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland.
However, in what Sky News described as “a blow to the duke”, the New York judge ruled that the lawsuit can be served to Andrew’s US lawyers, regardless of whether the royal “authorised” the Los-Angeles-based legal team to accept it.
The ruling came days after the prince suffered another blow when the High Court in London “said it would arrange for Andrew to be served if the parties failed to work out their own arrangement”, the broadcaster added. His lawyers were given until next Friday to appeal the decision.
Following the High Court’s announcement, a source told the Daily Mirror that the duke was no longer “his usual blase self, acting like everything is in hand”. The insider added: “The issue has suddenly become very pressing and there is a distinct tension in the air.”
However, said The Sun, the prince can “avoid being served with a lawsuit on sex abuse claims by staying in his Scottish hideaway”, because the English court “does not have automatic jurisdiction north of the border”.
And in a development in the royal’s favour, another US judge has ruled that he can seek information to support arguments that a settlement agreed between Giuffre and late convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein in 2009 disallows her lawsuit against the prince.
Andrew “is said to be pinning his hopes” on the settlement, which “allegedly prevents her from suing”, said The Telegraph. His lawyer, Andrew Brettler, had told a pre-trial hearing on Monday that he believed the agreement released the Duke and others from “any and all potential liability”.
Alan Dershowitz, a former lawyer for Epstein, was accused by Giuffre of sexual assault in 2019, but she reportedly dropped the claim last month as a direct result of the agreement.
“The same reasons for dismissing the case against me seem to apply to Prince Andrew,” Dershowitz told the Manhattan court this week. “These documents should get the charges against Prince Andrew thrown out.”
Giuffre, now aged 38, has accused Andrew of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The duke denies all the claims and says he has “no recollection” of meeting her when she was a teenager.