Embattled UK royal, Prince Andrew has denied he had a close friendship with convicted Ghislaine Maxwell.
Maxwell was found guilty in 2021 of child sex trafficking and other offences in connection with the financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
In court papers filed on Wednesday, January 26, lawyers for the prince denied his close relationship with Maxwell while also demanding to go before a jury to contest the claim brought by his accuser Virginia Giuffre.
Ms Giuffre is suing the Queen’s son for allegedly sexually assaulting her in London, New York and the Virgin Islands when she was a teenager at homes owned by Maxwell and paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
She is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.
The Duke of York has consistently denied all the allegations by Giuffre against him.
In the 11-page court document, Prince Andrew’s legal team list a number of reasons why they believe her civil lawsuit should be dismissed.
First, the lawyers say the court to consider is the issue of consent.
The document says: “Assuming, without admitting, that Giuffre has suffered any injury or damage alleged in the complaint, Giuffre’s claims are barred by the doctrine of consent.”
The document also states that Prince Andrew “admits that he met Epstein in or around 1999”, but denies that he participated in any abuse with the late financier.
On the matter of a photograph of the prince with his arm around Ms Giuffre, with Maxwell in the background, his lawyers say they do not have enough information to admit or deny its existence.
“Prince Andrew lacks sufficient information to admit or deny the allegation that there exists photographic evidence of his alleged meeting with Giuffre,” says his legal team.
The legal document also “denies” Ms Guiffre’s claim that Prince Andrew was a close friend of Maxwell.
Writing to a US judge, his lawyers said:
“Prince Andrew hereby demands a trial by jury on all causes of action asserted in the complaint.”
In the papers, Prince Andrew’s lawyers further argue that Ms Giuffre has no legal basis to bring the case since she is a permanent resident of Australia.
They also refer to a 2009 settlement agreement between Ms Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein, a longtime associate of Prince Andrew.
Lisa Bloom, who legally represents a number of Maxwell’s and Epstein’s accusers, called this demand a “PR move”, saying Ms Giuffre had already asked for a jury trial.
She said Prince Andrew’s request was “meaningless” as it was Ms Giuffre’s constitutional right to have a jury trial if she asked for one.
After taking off his military and government roles by Queen Elizabeth last year, Prince Andrew is now contesting this case as a private citizen and this latest move paves the way for a bombshell trial in the autumn.
Despite both sides ready to fight legally they have not ruled out negotiations for a settlement.
Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender, killed himself in prison in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial. British socialite Maxwell was found guilty last month of grooming underage girls to be abused by him.