Is This The Reason The Case Against Prince Andrew Will Be Dropped?

The accusations against him could be deemed 'baseless' due to a technicality.

Prince Andrew

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |

The civil lawsuit against Prince Andrew may be dismissed without a trial in New York today, after it was discovered his accuser Virginia Giuffre made an agreement with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Virginia claims that the Queen’s son sexually assaulted her when she was 17 years old after she was trafficked by his former friend Epstein—who she also claims assaulted her when she was 16 years old.

However, the Duke of York’s lawyers persist he ‘never sexually abused or assaulted’ Giuffre and have now unearthed an agreement made between Epstein and Giuffre, which could protect Prince Andrew from claims of sexual assault against him.

In the hearing, made by video teleconference, Prince Andrew’s legal team are expected to argue that the $500,000 settlement agreement made in 2009 by Epstein to Giuffre makes the case against the prince baseless and that it should be thrown out of court.

The agreement came to light after a previously confidential 12-page document disclosing the terms of the settlement was made public. In the settlement, it states that after Giuffre - referenced by her maiden name Roberts - received the sum, she agrees to: ‘remise, release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge the said second parties and any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant…for all, and all manner of, action and actions of Virginia Roberts including state or federal, case and causes of action.’

Although the document doesn’t mention Prince Andrew by name, his representative Andrew B Brettler told a New York court that the settlement should end the lawsuit. He argued it ‘releases Prince Andrew and other from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here.’

But Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, responded that the document was ‘irrelevant to the case against Prince Andrew', with some critics describing the document as immoral as it was designed to protect the convicted sex offender Epstein.

The judge Lewis Kaplan has not yet decided whether to dismiss Giuffre’s lawsuit. However, lawyer Lucia Osborne-Crowley told The Independent that the unspecific language of the settlement could aid the prince in avoiding trial.

‘It is very possible that the settlement agreement between Virginia Roberts and Jeffrey Epstein protects Prince Andrew,’ she said. ‘That’s because the language in the settlement is very broad – it says that any third party that could be considered a “potential defendant” in the Epstein lawsuit will be “forever” shielded from any and all claims brought by Ms Roberts.’

However, she also acknowledged that the judge could say Prince Andrew isn’t covered by the settlement, as he wasn’t a defendant in the specific allegations it relates to. The lawyer also added that Giuffre successfully sued and settled a case against the recently convicted Ghislaine Maxwell in 2017 - so, she wasn't protected by the document and Prince Andrew may not be either.

Alan Collins, Partner in the abuse team at Hugh James Solicitors, told Grazia that while settlement and non-disclosure agreements are commonplace to avoid further disputes they cannot stop sexual abuse cases being reported to the police and so are uncommonly used in such scenarios.

He explained: 'In the Giuffre case we have such an agreement which on the face of it appears comprehensive, and does not prohibit disclosure of any criminal allegation to the authorities, but the interesting question is whether it is enforceable by a third party?

'Epstein is not around to enforce, and so would his estate do so? The fact is that it is a third party [Prince Andrew] who is not a party to the agreement which is effectively seeking to do so, and not the estate…. Arguably the wording is such that only the estate can.'

Prince Andrew’s legal team have previously tried to have the trial stopped by claiming in papers on October 30 that: ‘Accusing a member of the world’s best known royal family of serious misconduct has helped Giuffre create a media frenzy online and in the traditional press. It is unfortunate, but undeniable, that sensationalism and innuendo have prevailed over the truth.’

The Metropolitan Police decided not to continue their investigation into Prince Andrew, which a friend of the Duke told the BBC was ‘no surprise’ as ‘the claims are not sufficient to warrant any further investigation.’

If Giuffre’s case against Prince Andrew is still taken to court in New York it is likely the trial will take place sometime in the autumn. Ahead of the trial, Giuffre’s lawyers have requested evidence that Prince Andrew cannot sweat after he famously said he couldn’t perspire in a [Newnight interview](http://Prince Andrew Has Given A 'No Holds Barred' Interview About The Epstein Allegations). Giuffre claimed the duke was ‘sweating profusely all over me’ at a London club where he allegedly assaulted her in 2001.

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