Today’s big question

What does the US abuse lawsuit mean for Prince Andrew?

Source close to Prince Charles says case will end chances of a return to public life

Prince Andrew will never return to public duties after being accused of “rape in the first degree” by Jeffrey Epstein’s accuser, Virginia Guiffre, a source close to Prince Charles has said.

After Guiffre filed a lawsuit naming the Duke of York, the source told The Times that Prince Charles views the allegations against his brother as “an unsolvable problem” that will bring “unwelcome reputational damage to the institution”.

The Prince of Wales “has the ability to have sympathy for the slings and arrows that his brother endures”, the source said, but “this will probably further strengthen in the prince’s mind that a way back for the duke is demonstrably not possible, because the spectre of this [accusation] raises its head with hideous regularity”.

The comments from the royal insider came as Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick said that she has ordered a review of the case, warning the royal that “no one is above the law”.

Speaking to LBC, Dick said that “it’s been reviewed twice before”, adding: “We are of course open to working with authorities from overseas, we will give them every assistance if they ask us for anything - within the law, obviously - and as a result of what’s going on I've asked my team to have another look at the material.”

Giuffre claims that the Queen's second son abused her multiple times in 2001, at convicted paedophile Epstein’s Manhattan home, on his private Caribbean island, and at Ghislaine Maxwell’s home in London. The Duke of York is alleged to have known how old she was and “that she was a sex-trafficking victim”, according to documents filed in federal court in New York. 

Prince Andrew’s “extreme and outrageous conduct” continues to cause Giuffre “significant emotional and psychological distress and harm”, the documents say. “Twenty years ago Prince Andrew's wealth, power, position, and connections enabled him to abuse a frightened, vulnerable child with no one there to protect her.

“It is long past the time for him to be held to account.”

Giuffre has previously claimed that she was flown to New York to have sex with Andrew by Epstein, who hanged himself in prison in 2019 while awaiting trial on child sex offences. The prince has “repeatedly and vehemently denied” having ever abused her, reports The Guardian.

In a disastrous Newsnight interview months after Epstein’s death,  Andrew told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis that “it didn't happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

But despite his denials, his “troubles” now appear to be “mounting”, says the Daily Mail. As the newspaper notes, the case marks the first time that Andrew has been “directly targeted” in a lawsuit since the allegations against him first emerged a decade ago. And unlike his monarch mother, he “does not enjoy diplomatic immunity”, which is only extended to the Queen’s “immediate household”.

The court documents say that Giuffre is requesting a trial by jury after Andrew “stonewalled” requests to cooperate with US authorities investigating Epstein’s crimes. But “it is unclear what powers the court has to compel Andrew to appear”, says the London Evening Standard

Indeed, while “questions are now swirling about what is next for Andrew”, the 61-year-old “may avoid ever setting foot in the US again”, says The Sun.

Last summer, then-attorney general Bill Barr said that he was not seeking the extradition of the prince as part of a continuing probe into Epstein. And as the new lawsuit against Andrew a civil rather than criminal case, he cannot be forced to go to the US now.

Giuffre is seeking unspecified “punitive damages” in her lawsuit, which was filed under New York’s Child Victims Act.  Before the legislation was introduced in 2019, alleged victims “had up to five years after they turned 18 to file a claim” in the state, explains the newspaper.

But the act has given “all victims a one-off window to make a case, regardless of how historic their claim” may be - a window those closes at the end of this week. 

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