The Duke of York has turned to Britain’s top extradition lawyer to deal with an FBI investigation into his ties with convicted sexual abuser Jeffrey Epstein, The Telegraph has revealed citing sources.
Clare Montgomery Q, the lawyer hired by Prince Andrew, has been referred to as “the most formidable member of the bar", as she previously provided services to Chile’s former leader Augusto Pinochet and fugitive Indian tycoon Nirav Modi, wanted in the country’s most overwhelming fraud epic.
Her clients also included Shrien Dewani, the newlywed charged and acquitted with murdering his bride in South Africa, as well as Gary McKinnon from the high-profile case of the “superhacker” that tried to fend off extradition to the US.
Considered to be one of the most highly respected professionals in criminal law, Montgomery is employed as a senior barrister at Matrix Chambers and her fees reportedly stand at around £1,000 an hour.
Montgomery is reportedly being briefed by Gary Bloxsome, a criminal defence lawyer who previously defended British troops against war crime allegations and is understood to have been hired directly by the Duke.
In January, US prosecutors publicly accused the Duke of ignoring their allegedly repeated attempts to contact him, thereby sparking a stand-off between the two camps – the US team looking into Epstein’s surroundings and Prince Andrew’s associates.
In what was seen as an unprecedented move, Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who is leading the inquiry into Epstein’s co-conspirators, announced that the Duke had provided "zero cooperation" following the FBI’s requests for a sit-down.
In response, sources close to the Duke blasted US prosecutors for “failing to play with a straight bat” and revealed that his lawyers were preparing to counter the claims. A friend of the Duke, meanwhile is reported to have claimed Prince Andrew was “angry and bewildered” at Berman’s claim. Andrew, incidentally, issued a public statement at the time, confirming he was "willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required".
Silence has reigned since Berman’s statements, with Buckingham Palace having distanced itself from the Duke-related controversy following his step-down from formal royal duties and relocation of his office from the Palace grounds.
Sources cited by The Telegraph suggest the Duke has held regular negotiations with his legal team on the Epstein case, since the ill-fated – and even “disastrous”, as it has been claimed, interview with the BBC’s Newsnight.
On 16 November, Prince Andrew sat down with the national broadcaster after Epstein-linked allegations implicated him in the late convicted paedophile’s sex abuse scheme. He said among other things that it was a mistake to see Epstein after he had been convicted of soliciting prostitution (the court ruling that preceded the recent charges), admitting though that he did so in order to tell the financier that they were no longer friends.
The interview was badly received and caused a severe public uproar engulfing the whole royal family.