The US Department of Justice has officially demanded Great Britain allow Prince Andrew to be questioned over his links to the late billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, potentially embroiling him in the criminal probe for the first time.
The Duke of York, 60, had previously declined to be questioned by prosecutors in New York, in relation to their investigation into Epstein’s historic sex trafficking network.
Though he ‘categorically’ denies any wrongdoing, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, now 36, has accused Andrew of having sex with her on three different occasions between 2001 and 2002, when she was 17.
And now Andrew could have to address those accusations under oath, according to The Sun, after the US Department of Justice reportedly filed a ‘mutual legal assistance’ (MLA) request to the UK Home Office.
The Duke of York, 60, had previously refused to be questioned by prosecutors in New York, in relation to their investigation into Epstein’s historic sex trafficking network
Prince Andrew has previously admitted to becoming friends with Jeffrey Epstein (seen right) in 1999, after being introduced to the financier through Ghislaine Maxwell (Pictured: Melania Trump, Prince Andrew, Gwendolyn Beck and Jeffrey Epstein at a party at the Mar-a-Lago club, 2000)
MLA requests are only used in criminal cases under a legal treaty with the UK. The order could require Andrew to appear in a UK court as a witness within the next few months, The Sun reported.
Representatives for Prince Andrew issued no comment to DailyMail.com when approached about the matter.
However a source close to the Duke’s legal team said: ‘Legal discussions with the DOJ 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 DOJ during the course of this year. We believe in playing straight bat.’
It’s understood that the MLA was formally filed last month, which, if granted, would leave US prosecutors with two options.
Firstly, the Duke of York could be asked to volunteer to be interviewed and issue investigators a signed statement. Typically used only for witnesses to crimes, crucially neither the interview nor the written statement would be made under oath.
But secondly, US prosecutors – who’ve previously voiced frustration about Andrew’s lack of cooperation in the probe so far – could ask the Duke to appear at London’s City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court to provide oral or written evidence, which would be issued under oath.
Should Prince Andrew refuse, he may be forced to attend in person by summons where Department of Justice lawyers would be able to quiz him directly.
If US prosecutors wanted to extradite Andrew, they would have to obtain an arrest warrant or a grand jury indictment to make a request to the UK.
Prince Andrew announced he’d be stepping back from public life after a disastrous interview with the BBC in November, regarding the decades-long friendship he shared with Epstein
Virginia Roberts Giuffre (right) claims she was trafficking by Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew in London, in 2001, at Maxwell’s home in Mayfair when she was 17-years-old
Unlike his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew does not have diplomatic immunity from prosecution.
However, any evidence provided by Andrew may be held ‘in camera’, meaning the session would be private with press and members of the public barred from attending.
The Duke would also retain the right to ‘plead the fifth’ and stay silent, however legal experts have already warned that any decision to do so could dramatically backfire.
‘While the Prince would retain the right to decline to testify under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the impact on his already diminished reputation would be considerable and an adverse inference could be drawn against him in the related civil litigations, leading to a possible default judgment,’ former federal prosecutor Evan T Barr wrote in the New York Law Journal last month.
Barr suggested Andrew’s ‘safest approach is to hunker down in the UK.’
Giuffre also alleges that Epstein paid her to have sex with Andrew at Epstein’s New York mansion, and claims to have had sex with Prince Andrew and eight other girls on Epstein’s private island
Andrew vehemently denies the allegations made by Giuffre, insisting he has no recollection of ever meeting her
Prince Andrew announced he’d be stepping back from public life after a disastrous interview with the BBC in November, regarding the decades-long friendship he shared with Epstein.
During the interview, Andrew insisted he would cooperate with any US investigation if his ‘legal advice was to do so’.
However, in January, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman criticized Andrew for providing ‘zero cooperation’ with his probe. Then in March, Berman said Andrew had since ‘completely shut the door on voluntary co-operation.’
Representatives for Andrew rebuked the claims, insisting his legal aides had been in regular contact with the prosecutor’s officer since the beginning of the year.
Berman, meanwhile, said his office was ‘considering its options’ after Andrew’s attorneys made it clear he was ‘not willing to submit to an interview’. The MLA request was then filed in May.
Prince Andrew has previously admitted to becoming friends with Jeffrey Epstein in 1999, after being introduced to the financier through Ghislaine Maxwell.
Epstein was a guest at Maxwell’s birthday party at Sandringham Palace, as well as at Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle in 2006, two months after a warrant was issued for his arrest for the sexual assault of a minor.
Epstein was a guest at Ghislaine Maxwell’s (right) birthday party at Sandringham Palace, as well as at Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle, two months after a warrant was issued for his arrest in 2006 for the sexual assault of a minor
Epstein and Andrew were believed to have met on at least 10 other occasions, with the Duke of York even staying over at Epstein’s mansion in New York, at his Palm Beach home and on his private island in the US Virgin Islands.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre claims she was trafficking by Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew in London, in 2001, at Maxwell’s home in Mayfair when she was 17-years-old.
Giuffre also alleges that Epstein later paid her to have sex with Andrew at Epstein’s New York mansion, and claims to have had sex with Prince Andrew and eight other girls on Epstein’s private island in 2002.
Andrew vehemently denies the allegations made by Giuffre, insisting he has no recollection of ever meeting her.
Epstein was convicted for procuring an underage girl for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute in Florida in 2008. Two years after his release from Prison, Andrew was pictured entering Epstein’s New York mansion in December 2010, where he stayed for four days.
Epstein was convicted for procuring an underage girl for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute in Florida in 2008. He was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell last year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges
In his interview with Newsnight, Andrew insisted that the ‘sole purpose’ of the visit was to cut ties with Epstein.
The Queen’s second son likened the 21,000 sq ft mansion to a railway station due to the fact that ‘there were people coming in and out of that house all the time’.
Pushed on why he stayed at the home of a convicted sex offender, he said: ‘Now, I went there with the sole purpose of saying to him that because he had been convicted, it was inappropriate for us to be seen together.’
A former model who was once part of Epstein’s inner circle, claimed in an exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday earlier this month, that the financier had arranged for three young women to meet Prince Andrew at the residence during the visit.
The women, who were all in their early 20s, were told to ‘dress up beautifully’ for the meetings, the source claimed.
Jeffrey Epstein, 66, was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell last August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Five of Epstein’s accusers have reportedly told prosecutors they also want to give evidence against Prince Andrew, with pre-trial witness subpoenas having already been prepared.
Those subpoenas could be served on Prince Andrew should he ever travel to the US.
The UK Home Office has not yet returned a DailyMail.com request for comment.
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’s relationship with Epstein.
Andrew first meets 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.