Thursday 24 October 2019

Prince's lawyers deride sex claim as, categorically untrue

Woman at centre of scandal says British royal abused her while she was an underage minor

Lawyers acting for Britain's Duke of York have privately accused an American woman of embarking on a
Lawyers acting for Britain's Duke of York have privately accused an American woman of embarking on a "speculative fishing expedition" in attempting to ensnare the prince in an underage sex scandal
"The royals have been enjoying a healthy resurgence of late after a bruising period in history...But respect for the institution is a fragile thing and one cannot ignore the fact that that, whatever the outcome of the current US proceedings, the Duke's friendship with convicted paedophile and alleged blackmailer Jeffrey Epstein (pictured) is in danger of damaging the Queen" (Sipa Press / Rex Features)

Robert Mendick

Lawyers acting for Britain's Duke of York have privately accused an American woman of embarking on a "speculative fishing expedition" in attempting to ensnare the prince in an underage sex scandal.

Prince Andrew has been named in court papers lodged in the US over allegations that he sexually abused a 17-year-old girl, supplied to him by his friend Jeffrey Epstein, a disgraced investment tycoon and convicted sex offender.

The legal papers, lodged by the alleged victim's legal team, go on to accuse the prince of lobbying the US authorities to ensure Epstein was given a "more favourable plea" bargain following a series of sex abuse allegations against him.

In 2008, Epstein was jailed for 18 months after pleading guilty to a single state charge of soliciting prostitution. Several other charges were dropped.

The alleged victim's lawyers are now seeking "documents regarding Epstein's lobbying efforts to persuade the government to give him a more favourable plea arrangement and/or non-prosecution agreement, including efforts on his behalf by prince Andrew."

Lawyers acting for the prince have examined the 13-page motion submitted in the Florida courts. It is understood the lawyers view the claim of lobbying as "a speculative fishing expedition". They are understood to believe the woman's legal team do not have definitive proof that lobbying was conducted by the prince, but want to see if there is any paperwork backing that claim up.

Last Friday, Buckingham Palace took the unprecedented step of "categorically" denying the allegations made by the woman - known as Jane Doe 3 in the court documents - that he had abused her. "Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue," Buckingham Palace said in a statement. Attempts to shore up the prince's reputation were helped by an interview given by Alan Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor and most feared criminal defence lawyer in the US who represented Epstein. Mr Dershowitz has also been accused by Jane Doe 3 of having "sexual relations" with her "on numerous occasions while she was a minor".

Yesterday Mr Dershowitz told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the claims against him were false. He said: "My only feeling is if she's lied about me, which I know to an absolute certainty she has, she should not be believed about anyone else.

"We know she's lied about other public figures including a former prime minister and others who she claims to have participated in sexual activities with, so I think it must be presumed all her allegations against Prince Andrew were false as well."

Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of Robert Maxwell, yesterday also denied the allegations that she had acted as a "madame for Epstein" and "facilitated Prince Andrew's acts of sexual abuse".

Miss Maxwell's spokesman said: "The allegations made against Ghislaine Maxwell are untrue. [The woman's] claims are obvious lies and should be treated as such and not publicised as news, as they are defamatory. Ghislaine Maxwell's original response to the lies and defamatory claims remains the same.

"Miss Maxwell strongly denies allegations of an unsavoury nature, which have appeared in the British press and elsewhere and reserves her right to seek redress at the repetition of such old defamatory claims."

But in a statement released through her lawyers, the woman responded to the denials. "These types of aggressive attacks on me are exactly the reason why sexual abuse victims typically remain silent and the reason why I did for a long time. That trend should change. I'm not going to be bullied back into silence," she said.

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