The Metropolitan Police may reopen its investigation into the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, dropped in 2016 despite a complaint by one of his accusers that she had been forced to have sex with Britain’s Prince Andrew.
The force said in a statement to The Sun that its “pre-investigation” – an examination of facts preceding a formal probe – “could be re-opened in light of the current revelations and further victims coming forward”.
“There has been a renewed focus on Mr Epstein’s friends and associates which could potentially instigate further criminal and/or civil investigations against these individuals,” they were quoted as saying.
Prince Andrew's role in Epstein controversy
Though the statement did not mention any names, such an investigation could potentially target Prince Andrew and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, the two people closely associated with the late convicted paedophile.
Epstein’s most visible accuser, Victoria Roberts Giuffre, claimed in a 2015 federal court case in the US that Maxwell had recruited her in 1999, when she was a minor, to sleep with Epstein. Giuffre also alleged she had been forced to have sex with Prince Andrew three times, including in London in 2001, when she was 17, at Maxwell’s home.
Prince Andrew was photographed at Maxwell’s home with his arm around Giuffre’s waist, but he maintained he had no memory of ever meeting or sleeping with the woman and suggested that the damning photo had been faked.
Details of Giuffre's allegations against the royal were officially struck from court records in 2015 when a judge ruled they “immaterial and impertinent” to the case. After Maxwell accused Giuffre of lying, the latter filed a defamation suit which was settled for an undisclosed sum.
The Met Police dropped its pre-investigation into Prince Andrew in 2016 and did not submit her complaint to a full inquiry under the pretext that it “would be largely focused on activities and relationships outside the UK”.
Giuffre blamed that move on corruption, tweeting: “At first the Scotland Yard told me they were going to forensically examine GM’s house in London - next thing I hear, just like the FBI, they were not allowed to pursue the investigation.”
I can already tell you the answer- at first the Scotland Yard told me they were going to forensically examine GM’s house in London- next thing I hear, just like the FBI, they were not allowed to pursue the investigation. Corruption in the highelevels of gov https://t.co/bz4Zc40DYF— Virginia Giuffre (@VRSVirginia) November 25, 2019
An ‘uncooperative’ prince
Prince Andrew, who stepped away from public duties in November days after a disastrous interview about Giuffre’s claims and friendship with Epstein, pledged to cooperate with US investigators if required.
US attorney Geoffrey Berman said on Monday that New York prosecutors and the FBI had tried to contact Prince Andrew’s lawyers as part of their investigation into Epstein but the Prince failed to cooperate. The representatives of Epstein’s alleged victims have likewise called on Prince Andrew to take part in the inquiry.
The Telegraph reported on Tuesday, citing sources close to Andrew, that he was “angry and bewildered” at Berman’s claims.
A source told the newspaper: “The Duke is more than happy to talk to the FBI but he hasn't been approached by them yet.”
It is understood that US investigators have reached out to Andrew’s legal team directly and not via a legal attache at the US embassy in London, as is typically done in such cases.
A spokesman for the US attorney’s office in New York said: “In light of the statement Prince Andrew issued I just feel it’s appropriate to say we've made several attempts to contact his representatives.”
Andrew is also said to have no obligation to assist the FBI or lawyers representing Epstein's accusers, although he could still comply with a formal request to testify filed through the Home Office.