Sexual assault allegations ‘baseless’, Prince Andrew’s lawyer says in hearing

UK

Prince Andrew’s lawyer has said claims of sexual assault against him are “baseless, unviable and potentially unlawful”.

Andrew Brettler represented the Duke of York in a pre-trial hearing in New York.

The hearing looked at whether the duke was properly served with the lawsuit by accuser Virginia Giuffre, the woman who has launched a civil lawsuit accusing him of sexual assault.

Prince Andrew has always categorically denied any sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre

Prince Andrew, the Earl of Inverness as he is known in Scotland, during a garden party at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh.
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Prince Andrew has always denied the allegations

Ms Giuffre’s lawyers have said the documents were handed to a Metropolitan Police officer on duty at the main gates of Andrew’s home in Windsor Great Park on 27 August.

Judge Lewis Kaplan told Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, David Boies, he has a week to find an alternative means of serving the papers on Prince Andrew.

Mr Brettler said they have gone to the high court to verify validity of how papers have been served.

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The duke’s lawyer also told the hearing on Monday that Ms Giuffre previously entered into a “settlement agreement” that would nullify her current lawsuit.

He added that Andrew’s lawyers have “significant concerns about the propriety of this lawsuit”.

“We believe this is a baseless, unviable and potentially unlawful lawsuit that the plaintiff has filed against the duke,” 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.”

Mr Brettler was apparently appointed at the last moment after Ms Giuffre’s legal team accused Andrew’s lawyers of having “stonewalled” their attempts to get them to engage with the case.

He has been described as a Hollywood lawyer who reportedly represented director Bryan Singer and musician Ryan Adams, and who has carved out a successful career defending allegations arising from the #MeToo movement.

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Prince Andrew ‘can’t ignore’ US lawsuit

During the hearing, Judge Kaplan repeatedly sought to limit the scope of the proceedings to the matter of whether or not the duke had been properly served notice of the case, and what action the court needs to take to ensure the legal papers reach him.

Ms Giuffre claims she was trafficked by Andrew’s former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with the duke, when she was 17 and a minor under US law.

She has repeatedly made her allegations against Epstein, the American’s ex-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, and the prince, but the suit is the first time she has directly confronted Andrew in such a formal setting.

Ms Giuffre earlier said in a statement that the lawsuit was brought under the Child Victims Act to allege she was trafficked to him and sexually abused by him.

“I am holding Prince Andrew accountable for what he did to me,” she said.

In a BBC Newsnight interview in 2019, Prince Andrew said he had never had sex with Ms Giuffre, saying: “I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.”

The duke said he had “no recollection” of ever meeting her and that there were “a number of things that are wrong” about her account.

He has also suggested a photo showing him with his arm around Ms Giuffre may have been doctored.

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