Prince Andrew can seek the unsealing of a 2009 settlement agreement that his lawyer says protects him from a lawsuit alleging he sexually assaulted a girl two decades ago, a U.S. judge has said.
- A Manhattan court has been told Prince Andrew’s attorneys plan to defend themselves based on a 2009 sealed settlement between Virginia Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein, to which the prince was not a party.
- Virginia Giuffre’s attorneys say Prince Andrew “actively evaded” formal efforts to serve him on trial
- Earlier in the week, the UK High Court accepted a request from Ms Guiffre’s legal team to formally notify Prince Andrew of her trial.
Manhattan Federal Court Judge Loretta A. Preska said in a written order Prince Andrew may seek information to support arguments that the deal between Virginia Giuffre and late financier Jeffrey Epstein rejected his legal action against the prince.
Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell at a Manhattan federal prison in August 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking. The death was ruled a suicide.
Lawyer Andrew Brettler, representing the Duke of York, told the Manhattan federal judge on Monday that he believed the settlement agreement “exonerates our client from liability.”
Mr Brettler spoke at the first court hearing resulting from the August trial, in which Ms Giuffre alleged Prince Andrew repeatedly abused her in 2001 when she was under 18.
Prince Andrew said the abuse never happened.
Mr Brettler’s comment on Monday was referenced in court documents submitted by lawyers for Ms Giuffre on Thursday as they asked a judge to rule Prince Andrew was properly briefed on Ms Giuffre’s trial.
They said Prince Andrew “actively avoided” formal efforts to serve him on Ms Giuffre’s trial.
Lawyers noted that Mr Brettler planned to defend himself based on the 2009 settlement between Ms Giuffre and Epstein in a Florida state case, to which Prince Andrew was not a party.
Prince can access papers refused at Dershowitz
Judge Preska has presided over requests to unseal much of the court records relating to an earlier lawsuit Ms Giuffre brought against Epstein’s partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, in 2015.
The libel lawsuit – which alleged Ms Maxwell had subjected Ms Giuffre to “public ridicule, contempt and disgrace” by calling her a liar – was settled and the case closed in May 2017.
In that case, the judge referred to Prince Andrew in an order dismissing attorney Alan Dershowitz’s attempt to unseal “a settlement agreement” which has been designated confidential and sealed in connection with the lawsuit Ms Giuffre has brought against Mrs. Maxwell.
The judge said Mr Dershowitz – who claimed he was seeking unsealing “for a matter of professional ethics” because he believed Ms Giuffre’s claims in the Prince Andrew lawsuit were prohibited by the settlement – cannot search the files because he is not a party to the lawsuit against Prince Andrew.
“To the court’s knowledge, Mr. Dershowitz has not been appointed as a traveling ethics reviewer,” Judge Preska wrote.
Lawyers for Ms Giuffre said Prince Andrew “was working with ‘Mr Dershowitz to obtain a copy of the unsealed settlement documents” so that he could share it with Prince Andrew “.
Ms Maxwell, 59, awaits trial in November on sex trafficking charges that allege she procured Epstein girls to sexually abuse for at least a decade, starting in 1994. She has pleaded not guilty .
US lawyers ask UK courts to notify Prince Andrew of lawsuit
Earlier in the week, Ms Guiffre’s lawyers called on UK courts to formally notify Prince Andrew of his trial after a lawyer for the prince argued that the Duke of York had not been properly briefed on the ‘unfounded’ civil action.
The British High Court accepted the request.
Ms Giuffre’s lawyer had argued that Prince Andrew had already been properly served when documents formally informing him of the trial were handed over to a Metropolitan Police officer at the main gates of the Prince’s House in Windsor Great Park on August 27.
However, Mr Brettler said Prince Andrew was not properly served. He also said Ms Giuffre’s claim was “baseless, unsustainable and potentially illegal”.
Under a treaty that governs cross-country claims called the Hague Notification Convention, Ms Giuffre’s legal team can ask the High Court in London to formally notify Prince Andrew of her civil action.
The UK court previously dismissed the claim on technical grounds, but has since changed course.
“The High Court will now take action to serve under the agreement, unless service is arranged by agreement between the parties.”
ABC / Son