04:22 GMT12 July 2020
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    The development comes after a top American prosecutor involved in the Jeffrey Epstein case accused the royal of breaking his commitment to speak with US authorities, saying that the Duke of York had provided “zero cooperation”.

    Prince Andrew allegedly called Virginia Giuffre, one of the alleged sex victims of Jeffrey Epstein, "a very sick girl", the Daily Mail reported, citing its weekend edition the Mail On Sunday. It did not reveal the source of the report. The newspaper claims that the royal made the comment during a conversation with his friend and business associate Jonathan Rowland in 2011, days after Virginia Giuffre, back then Virginia Roberts, made allegations of sexual abuse against American financier Jeffrey Epstein and the Duke of York.

    The newspaper also claims that in the same conversation, the Duke of York made a joke about breast cancer, apparently making light of a BBC report about the benefits of breastfeeding. The Daily Mail said that the joke was so offensive that it could not be repeated.

    Rowland, who is a son of property tycoon David Rowland, asked Prince Andrew in a message how the royal was coping with the sex scandal. "Hope the press isn’t getting you to (sic) much", Rowland reportedly wrote to him. The royal allegedly replied: "Not at all! She is a very sick girl apparently. The innuendo is the problem. But there is nothing that one can do for that! Shrug and move on".

    If the allegation is confirmed, this would be the second time that Prince Andrew directly referred to Virginia Giuffre. In his November interview with the BBC, the Duke of York dismissed Giuffre’s allegation that she was forced to have sex with the royal three times when she was 17 and said that he didn’t remember meeting the girl. However, an email uncovered by the BBC’s Panorama showed that Prince Andrew had contacted Ghislaine Maxwell, ex-girlfriend of Jeffrey Epstein who was reportedly involved in the banker’s sex trafficking ring, about Ms Giuffre. "Let me know when we can talk. Got some specific questions to ask you about Virginia Roberts", the email read. Maxwell responded: "Have some info. Call me when you have a moment".

    The development comes as a top prosecutor working on Jeffrey Epstein’s case accused the duke of stonewalling the investigation, saying that Prince Andrew had provided zero cooperation with US law enforcement. The royal’s spokesperson, however, has said that he is happy to talk to investigators, but that he has not been approached yet. Previously, the Duke of York released a statement saying that he is willing to help "any appropriate law enforcement agency" in the case against Epstein.

    Prosecutors may be interested in speaking with the royal, as he frequently communicated with Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s ex-girlfriend. Virginia Giuffre said she was trafficked into the United Kingdom and had sexual intercourse with the prince in Maxwell’s mansion in London. Maxwell, who is a daughter of publishing tycoon Robert Maxwell, was accused of procuring women and underage girls, whom Epstein reportedly abused. She is also one of four co-conspirators who was granted immunity from prosecution together with Epstein in a plea bargain that the financier struck with US federal prosecutors more than a decade ago when he was charged with soliciting prostitution. Under the agreement, he served almost 13 months in jail before being released for a year of probation under house arrest. During his time in jail, he was allowed to leave his cell for up to 12 hours, six days a week to work.

    The disgraced financier was arrested in July of 2019 and hanged himself in a prison cell awaiting trial. However, prosecutors stressed that the investigation into sex-trafficking was not finished. On 1 February, four women who accused Epstein of sexually assaulting them wrote an open letter to Prince Andrew calling on him to cooperate with the FBI in Epstein’s case for the “sake of his daughters and their children”, noting that the royal has a chance to be on the right side of history.

    Virginia Giuffre also posted a statement on Twitter urging the royal to cooperate with US law enforcement.

    Tags:
    FBI, sex offenders, rape, sexual abuse, Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell, Prince Andrew
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