| 8.4°C Dublin

Andrew has offered to be Epstein witness, his lawyers say


Denies claims: Prince Andrew was friends with Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: PA

Denies claims: Prince Andrew was friends with Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: PA


Denies claims: Prince Andrew was friends with Jeffrey Epstein. Photo: PA

Britain's Prince Andrew has offered on "three occasions" to be a witness in the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case, according to a statement from Andrew's lawyers.

It comes after a US prosecutor claimed Andrew had provided "zero cooperation" with FBI officials and reports emerged that the US had made a mutual legal assistance request to the UK to try to obtain his testimony.

But the prince's representatives suggested the US Department of Justice was seeking publicity rather than accepting the offer of help.

Andrew, known in Britain as the Duke of York, has been heavily criticised for his friendship with Epstein.

He has said he did not witness suspicious behaviour during visits to Epstein's homes.

Andrew's legal team has hit back at allegations from the US prosecutor in charge of the investigation into Epstein that the prince had provided "zero co-operation" to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

The legal team said: "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 cooperation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered."

Andrew stepped away from royal duties last year following a widely criticised BBC interview about his relationship with Epstein, who took his own life in a US jail while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy. The prince told BBC 'Newsnight' he first met the financier through "his girlfriend back in 1999".

But in March 2011, his then-private secretary Alastair Watson wrote to 'The Times' saying Andrew met Epstein in the "early 1990s".

Andrew later said he saw Epstein "infrequently", adding "probably no more than only once or twice a year".

But the prince and Ghislaine Maxwell were seen on holiday with Epstein at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida in 2000.

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.

In 2008, Epstein admitted to prostituting minors and is sentenced to 18 months in prison.

Epstein was released from jail in 2010. Andrew was photographed with him in New York's Central Park. Footage emerged years later, reportedly shot on December 6, 2010, showing him inside Epstein's Manhattan mansion, looking out from a large door.

Then in 2011, Andrew quit his role as UK trade envoy after the fallout from the Central Park photos.

In 2015, Buckingham Palace denied Andrew had committed any impropriety after he was named in US court documents related to Epstein.

A woman, later named in reports as Virginia Roberts, alleged in papers filed in Florida that she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, under the age of consent in the state. The claims against Andrew were struck from US civil court records following a federal judge's ruling.

Ms Roberts, also known as Virginia Giuffre, 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 in 2001. She 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. Andrew denies the claims.

Irish Independent