Prince Andrew is preparing to give evidence to a US investigation into billionaire Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender who took his own life in August of this year while awaiting trial on charges of running a vast sex trafficking network of underage girls, The Telegraph reported, citing unnamed sources.
The newspaper said that Buckingham Palace is reportedly bracing for a subpoena from US authorities that would demand that the Duke of York testify in court on his friendship with the disgraced financier after reports emerged that Lisa Bloom, a lawyer for some of Epstein’s victims, said that the royal must cooperate with US authorities.
Ms Bloom said that if the Duke refuses to appear in court, London and Washington would face a diplomatic situation.
I've been working with my 5 Epstein victim clients for months. Prince Andrew was simply not credible in his interview. He and his staff must cooperate with all investigations, show up for civil depositions and trials, and produce all documents. We are just getting started. https://t.co/7IFImNRfj5— Lisa Bloom (@LisaBloom) November 21, 2019
The development comes after the Duke of York announced on 20 November that he had asked the Queen for permission to let him step down from public duties for the “foreseeable future”, because his association with the paedophile Epstein has “become a major disruption” to the royal family. Prince Andrew also reiterated earlier his statement that he deeply sympathises with Epstein’s victims.
The Telegraph reported, citing “a well-placed royal source”, that the Queen reportedly summoned her second son – said to be her favourite – and sacked him from public duties, ordering him to stand aside.
The royal’s recent interview with the BBC on his friendship with Epstein caused huge uproar in the public. Speaking with Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis, the 59-year-old Duke denied allegations that he had sex with Virginia Giuffre – at the time Virginia Roberts – and who claimed that she was forced to have sexual intercourse with the royal three times.
Wjemasked to comment on a photo showing him and the underage Giuffre with the Duke’s hand on the girl’s waist, the prince said he had no memory of it and added that the investigation was unable to prove that the photo is fake "because it is a photograph of a photograph of a photograph".
The royal admitted that he stayed on Epstein’s private island, visited his home in Palm Beach, and travelled on his private plane, but noted that the two were not close friends, saying they saw each other a maximum of three times a year. The Duke also revealed why he met Epstein in 2010, after the financier was convicted of soliciting underage girls for prostitution and was ordered to register as sex offender following a deal with prosecutors.
Prince Andrew said that he visited the disgraced billionaire to explain that their friendship was over. “I felt that doing it over the telephone was the chicken's way of doing it”, the royal said.
During the same interview, the Duke also said that knowing Epstein had “some beneficial outcomes”, because he learned about business and trade from the financier and his acquaintances.
Major companies and banks such as British Telecom, Barclays, as well as charities, have distanced themselves from the Duke following his controversial interview with the BBC.