Prince Andrew at war with Jeffrey Epstein prosecutors
Furious Prince Andrew hits back at paedophile Jeffrey Epstein prosecutors to insist he’s offered to be a witness THREE times and accuse the US DoJ of breaking their own confidentiality rules with leaks and treating him like a second class citizen
- Duke of York’s team publish account of dealings with US Department of Justice
- They hit back forcefully at claims he has failed to engage with US investigation
- Lawyers say he is ‘being treated by a lower standard than… any other citizen’
- Comes after DoJ filed ‘mutual legal assistance’ request for help to Home Office
Prince Andrew launched an extraordinary public fightback today after US authorities made a formal request for him to be quizzed over the Jeffrey Epstein affair.
The Duke of York released a dramatic bundle of evidence this afternoon as he hit back forcefully at claims he has failed to engage with the American investigation.
In an explosive letter, his legal team gave an account of their dealings with the US Department of Justice, claiming he has offered to be a witness three times this year.
Andrew’s lawyers at legal firm Blackfords added today that he is ‘being treated by a lower standard than might reasonably be expected for any other citizen’.
His team also said that ‘breaches of confidentiality’ by the DoJ have given the world an ‘entirely misleading account of our discussions with them’.
Among the allegations raised in the document by the Duke’s lawyers were that:
- The Department of Justice had been ‘breaching their own confidentiality rules’;
- The DoJ had falsely claimed that the Duke has ‘offered zero co-operation’;
- The DoJ were more interested in ‘seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered’;
- An attempt by the DOJ to seek mutual legal assistance from the Home Office would be ‘disappointing’
The Duke of York (pictured in London in 2017) has always categorically denied any wrongdoing
Andrew (second left) has said he became friends with Jeffrey Epstein (right) in 1999, after being introduced to him through Ghislaine Maxwell. Pictured: Melania Trump, Andrew, Epstein’s friend Gwendolyn Beck and Epstein at a party at the Mar-a-Lago in Florida in 2000
They said the DoJ has been ‘investigating Mr Epstein and other targets for more than 16 years, yet the first time they requested the Duke’s help was on January 2, 2020’.
His London-based team at Blackfords added that the DoJ ‘reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero co-operation’.
‘The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness’: Full statement by Andrew’s legal firm Blackfords
In January 2020, Blackfords LLP and instructed counsel, Clare Montgomery QC and Stephen Ferguson, were commissioned to support HRH The Duke of York in his desire to provide co-operation to the US authorities regarding the victims of the late Jeffrey Epstein, should those authorities request his assistance. The working group is supported by Riverside Advisory on media relations.
To date, we have chosen not to make any public statement regarding our discussions with the US Department of Justice (DOJ). Our commitment to confidentiality is not only regarded as best practice in the UK but is also intended to respect the DOJ’s commitment to confidentiality, as set out in its own rules as they apply to discussions with potential witnesses.
However, in view of misleading media briefings, we owe it to our client to issue this clarifying statement.
As the public record indicates the DOJ has been actively investigating Mr Epstein and other targets for more than 16 years, yet the first time they requested the Duke’s help was on 2nd January 2020.
Importantly, the DOJ advised us that the Duke is not and has never been a ‘target’ of their criminal investigations into Epstein and that they sought his confidential, voluntary co-operation.
In the course of these discussions, we asked the DOJ to confirm that our co-operation and any interview arrangements would remain confidential, in accordance with the ordinary rules that apply to voluntary co-operation with the DOJ. We were given an unequivocal assurance that our discussions and the interview process would remain confidential.
The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ. Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero co-operation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.
On 27th January 2020, Mr Geoffrey S Berman, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, chose to make a public statement about the Duke. This led to worldwide media reports that there had been ‘a wall of silence’ and that there had been ‘zero co-operation’ by the Duke. These statements were inaccurate, and they should not have been made.
On 9th March 2020, Mr Berman made further public statements saying that the Duke had ‘completely shut the door’ on co-operating with the US investigation and that they are now ‘considering’ further options. Again, the first statement was inaccurate and should not have been made.
It is a matter of regret that the DOJ has seen fit to breach its own rules of confidentiality, not least as they are designed to encourage witness co-operation. Far from our client acting above the law, as has been implied by press briefings in the US, he is being treated by a lower standard than might reasonably be expected for any other citizen. Further, those same breaches of confidentiality by the DOJ have given the global media – and, therefore, the worldwide audience – an entirely misleading account of our discussions with them.
Any pursuit of an application for mutual legal assistance would be disappointing, since the Duke of York is not a target of the DOJ investigation and has recently repeated his willingness to provide a witness statement. It is hoped that this third offer has not been the cause of the most recent leak about the Duke of York. We do not intend to make any further public statement at this time as we wish to respect the rules of confidentiality under both English law and the US guidelines.
They continued by saying of the DoJ: ‘In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.’
In the statement, Blackfords said Andrew had offered to assist the DoJ three times this year and the authority first requested his help on January 2.
The statement said: ‘Importantly, the DoJ advised us that the duke is not and has never been a ‘target’ of their criminal investigations into Epstein and that they sought his confidential, voluntary co-operation.
‘In the course of these discussions, we asked the DoJ to confirm that our co-operation and any interview arrangements would remain confidential, in accordance with the ordinary rules that apply to voluntary co-operation with the DoJ. We were given an unequivocal assurance that our discussions and the interview process would remain confidential.
‘The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ. Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero co-operation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered. ‘
The statement added that an attempt by the DOJ to seek mutual legal assistance from the Home Office would be ‘disappointing’.
The statement said: ‘Any pursuit of an application for mutual legal assistance would be disappointing, since the Duke of York is not a target of the DOJ investigation and has recently repeated his willingness to provide a witness statement.
‘It is hoped that this third offer has not been the cause of the most recent leak about the Duke of York.
‘We do not intend to make any further public statement at this time as we wish to respect the rules of confidentiality under both English law and the US guidelines.’
It follows the DoJ filing a ‘mutual legal assistance’ (MLA) request for help to the Home Office, something used only in criminal cases under a legal treaty with the UK.
Andrew, 60, has always categorically denied any wrongdoing over his relationship with billionaire US paedophile Epstein.
But the request from US officials means he could be forced to appear in a UK court as a witness in the case within months.
US officials have previously claimed that Andrew has refused to co-operate with their requests to be questioned over Epstein and their investigation into his sex trafficking network.
Submitting an MLA is an audacious move to try to force him to answer questions.
Last night, the Mail was told that the duke’s legal team was ‘at the end of its tether’ and had ‘tried to play a straight bat’ with US officials, only to be greeted by leaks and innuendo.
A source close to the duke’s legal team told the Mail yesterday: ‘Legal discussions with the Department of Justice are subject to strict confidentiality rules, as set out in their own guidelines.
‘We have chosen to abide by both the letter and the spirit of these rules, which is why we have made no comment about anything related to the Department of Justice during the course of this year. We believe in playing a straight bat.’
Andrew is yet to speak to prosecutors in the US despite pledging in his disastrous Newsnight interview in November last year that he would co-operate.
The Department of Justice’s request for ‘mutual legal assistance’ from the Home Office effectively bypasses a request to Buckingham Palace.
It means Andrew could be forced to appear in a British court as a witness within months.
One of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts, alleges she had sex with the Duke of York three times when she was 17 at the behest of the billionaire paedophile. The prince emphatically denies the allegation.
Andrew’s relationship with Epstein came under public scrutiny in 2010 when photos emerged of them together in New York.
By that time, Epstein was a registered sex offender but the duke spent a weekend at his £57million mansion.
One of Epstein’s victims, Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, alleges she had sex with the Duke of York three times when she was 17 at the behest of the billionaire paedophile
Andrew’s lawyers at Blackfords released a statement today, the start of which is pictured
The disgraced financier killed himself last August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
But his victims want justice against his alleged conspirators, including British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 58 – the daughter of shamed media tycoon Robert Maxwell.
Lawyers for Miss Maxwell have previously said she denies any wrongdoing.
Andrew has categorically denied having any knowledge that Epstein was sexually abusing teenage girls.
Andrew and Virginia Roberts, aged 17, at Ghislaine Maxwell’s townhouse in London in 2001
Miss Roberts alleges she first had sex with Andrew in 2001 when she was 17 after being trafficked by Epstein.
She said she was flown on Epstein’s private jet to London to meet the duke and the pair were photographed together in Miss Maxwell’s Belgravia home.
During his Newsnight interview, Andrew said he did not recall ever meeting Miss Roberts.
It was claimed last night that the MLA request, reported by The Sun, was formally lodged by the DoJ last month under the terms of a 1994 treaty.
Andrew spoke to the BBC’s Emily Maitlis for a Newsnight interview in November last year
If granted, US prosecutors could either ask the duke to voluntarily attend an interview or give a signed statement.
They could also ask Andrew to attend a magistrates’ court to provide oral or written evidence on oath. If he refused, the duke could be forced to attend in person.
But Andrew would have the right to ‘plead the 5th Amendment’ under the US Constitution and stay silent in order to not incriminate himself.
The MLA request is not the same as requesting Andrew’s extradition.
That process could be launched only if he was considered a formal suspect and the FBI believed there was enough evidence to charge him.
Home Office sources have confirmed the request had been made. No decision has yet been made by UK officials.
Meanwhile, Harry Dunn’s father said a deal involving Andrew and his son’s alleged killer is a ‘no brainer’.
Tim Dunn said his family need US suspect Anne Sacoolas back in the UK ‘so that we can get justice and closure for the loss of our son’.
Epstein is pictured with Ghislaine Maxwell in New York in 2005. Lawyers for Miss Maxwell have previously said she denies any wrongdoing
The teenager’s father also claimed that during a meeting with the Foreign Secretary in January, Dominic Raab said ‘if we threaten the US, look at the size of them compared to the size of us’, while discussing the response to the US’s refusal to extradite Sacoolas.
The Dunn family joined forces with alleged victims of Epstein earlier this year to put pressure on Sacoolas and the Duke of York to ‘co-operate with law enforcement’.
In a joint press conference in New York in February, Lisa Bloom, the lawyer representing six of Epstein’s alleged victims, said the ‘parallels between the two cases are eerie’ and involved ‘everyday teenagers’ who were ‘victimised’.
Sacoolas 42, allegedly killed 19-year-old Harry when his motorbike crashed into a car outside a US military base in Northamptonshire in August last year.
Andrew is photographed with the disgraced Epstein in New York’s Central Park in 2010
She claimed diplomatic immunity following the crash and was able to return to the US, sparking an international controversy.
She was charged with causing death by dangerous driving in December, but an extradition request submitted by the Home Office was refused the following month – a decision described by the US State Department as ‘final’.
Commenting on the reported MLA request, Tim Dunn said: ‘This is a no brainer to me. No-one is above the law no matter who you are.
‘Andrew is clearly wanted over in the US to help achieve justice for the victims of Epstein. We need Mrs Sacoolas back here so that we can get justice and closure for the loss of our son.’
How Duke of York’s annual meetings with Epstein including after he was sent to jail caused Prince Andrew decades of trouble
Here is a timeline of the Duke of York’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein.
Prince Andrew first meets Jeffrey Epstein, reportedly introduced through his friendship with Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell.
Andrew welcomes Epstein to the Queen’s private Scottish retreat in Aberdeenshire. Andrew later says he sees Epstein ‘infrequently’, adding ‘probably no more than only once or twice a year’.
Andrew and Ms Maxwell are seen on holiday with Epstein at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.
Epstein and Ms Maxwell attend a party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen to mark Andrew’s 40th birthday, the Princess Royal’s 50th, the Queen Mother’s 100th and Princess Margaret’s 70th.
Virginia Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew ‘three times, including one orgy’, with the first encounter allegedly taking place in Ms Maxwell’s London townhouse. Ms Roberts claims to have had sex with Andrew on two more occasions, at Epstein’s New York home and at an ‘orgy’ on his private island in the Caribbean.
Epstein admits prostituting minors and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Epstein is released from jail. Andrew is photographed with the disgraced Epstein in New York’s Central Park.
Footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on December 6 2010, showing him inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, from where he is seen looking out from a large door of the property waving a woman goodbye after Epstein leaves to get into a chauffeur-driven car.
The duke quits his role as UK trade envoy after the fallout from the Central Park photos.
Buckingham Palace denies Andrew has committed any impropriety after he is named in US court documents related to Epstein. A woman, later named in reports as Ms Roberts, alleges in papers filed in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent in the state.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Andrew, in his first public engagement since he was embroiled in the allegations, responds, saying: ‘Firstly I think I must, and want, for the record, to refer to the events that have taken place in the last few weeks.
‘I just wish to reiterate, and to reaffirm, the statements that have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace.’
In April the claims against Andrew are struck from US civil court records following a federal judge’s ruling.
Newly released legal documents show that Johanna Sjoberg, another alleged Epstein victim, claimed Andrew touched her breast while sitting on a couch inside the US billionaire’s Manhattan apartment in 2001.
Buckingham Palace said the allegations are ‘categorically untrue’.
Epstein is found dead in his jail cell on August 10, having killed himself after being charged with sex trafficking.
Later that month a pilot on Epstein’s private jet claims Andrew was a passenger on past flights with the financier and Ms Roberts.
The Sun newspaper reported that David Rodgers said in a testimony released in August that Epstein, Andrew and the-then 17-year-old travelled to the US Virgin Islands on April 11 2001.
Buckingham Palace describes the evidence statement as having ‘a number of inconsistencies’ and said that Andrew was on a different continent in some cases.
Following Epstein’s death, a statement from the palace says that Andrew is ‘appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged crimes’.
Breaking his silence on the issue for the first time since 2015, Andrew then releases a statement on August 24 saying: ‘At no stage during the limited time I spent with him (Epstein) did I see, witness or suspect any behaviour of the sort that subsequently led to his arrest and conviction.’
On November 16, the prince gave a ‘disastrous’ BBC interview in which he spoke about his friendship with Epstein and addressed allegations of his own sexual conduct.
He faced a barrage of criticism following his television appearance, with the royal accused of a lack of empathy with Epstein’s victims.
During the interview, Andrew, questioned by Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis, twice stated his relationship with Epstein, who died in jail while facing sex trafficking charges, had some ‘seriously beneficial outcomes’, giving him the opportunity to meet people and prepare for a future role as a trade envoy.
The duke denied he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage, saying one encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.
The same alleged sexual liaison, which the American said began with the royal sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp, was factually wrong as the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.
He cast doubt on the authenticity of a picture that appears to show Andrew with his arm around the waist of Mrs Giuffre, when a teenager.
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