Prince Andrew’s legal team have gotten approval to review a previously secret settlement which his lawyers hope will shield him from a sex abuse lawsuit in the US.
A US District Judge on Wednesday granted permission for the Duke of York’s lawyers to receive a copy of a confidential agreement between the late financier Jeffrey Epstein and Virginia Giuffre.
Ms Giuffre, 38, is launching a US civil case against Prince Andrew, accusing him of sexually abusing her two decades ago.
The 61-year-old royal, who is not facing any criminal charges, ‘categorically’ denies Ms Giuffre’s claims against him.
Ms Giuffre, who has also accused Epstein of abuse, signed a settlement deal with the financier in 2009 as part of a Florida state case, to which the duke was not a party.
The deal between her and Esptein, who died in his jail cell in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking charges, has remained confidential.
Epstein’s estate had agreed to let Prince Andrew’s legal team review the legal document, but court approval was needed.
At a hearing in Manhatten yesterday, District Judge Loretta Preska granted the approval.
While at a hearing last month, Andrew Brettler, a lawyer for the prince, told the judge overseeing Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit that he believed the agreement ‘absolves our client from any and all liability.’
During the first pre-trial hearing of the case last month, he said: ‘There has been a settlement agreement that the plaintiff has entered into in a prior action that releases the duke and others from any and all potential liability.’
However, David Boies, one of the lawyers representing Ms Giuffre, said in a court filing last month that he believed the settlement was ‘irrelevant’ to her case against the prince.
He said: ‘Although we believe that the release is irrelevant to the case against Prince Andrew, now that service has been accepted and the case is proceeding to a determination on the merits, we believe that counsel for Prince Andrew have a right to review the release and to make whatever arguments they believe appropriate based on it.’
Mr Brettler said in an email he expects to receive the agreement soon from Ms Giuffre’s lawyers.
Ms Giuffre is accusing the prince of having sex with her knowing she had been trafficked by Epstein and she was underage. She alleged this took place at the London home of Epstein’s longtime associate, Ghislaine Maxwell.
She also said the prince abused her at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan, and on Epstein’s private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
She claims she was trafficked by Epstein, the duke’s former friend, to have sex with Andrew when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.
Ms Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.
Andrew faces an October 29 deadline to formally respond to Giuffre’s lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages.
Epstein, a registered sex offender, killed himself at age 66 in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to helping recruit and groom underage girls for Epstein to abuse. Her trial in Manhattan is scheduled for November 29.