Prince Andrew‘s lawyers will today launch an attempt to persuade a judge to dismiss a civil case made against the royal following allegations of rape.
The Duke of York has denied claims of repeated sexual assault made by Virginia Giuffre, who alleges that she had been trafficked by now-deceased convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein when she was 17 – a minor under US law.
The prince is to watch the lawsuit proceedings via video-link at 3pm GMT, which will be presided over by US-based judge Lewis A Kaplan.
Ms Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages from Prince Andrew, and there is speculation the amount could run into millions of pounds.
The hearing comes a day after a 12-page document was publicised, that revealed the terms of a secret £370,000 payout from billionaire financier Epstein to Ms Giuffre.
The duke and his legal team are to argue that the lawsuit brought against him by Ms Giuffre should be thrown out of court.
His team are expected to say that the newly-public document states that Ms Giuffre had in 2009 agreed to “release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge” Epstein and “any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant”.
The settlement relates to a case in the state of Florida in which the duke was not a party.
Mr Kaplan is to decide within days whether the secret settlement shields Prince Andrew from liability.
The duke’s lawyer Andrew B Brettler has argued that the emergence of Ms Giuffre’s “settlement agreement” would spell an end to her lawsuit.
He previously told a New York hearing the agreement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here”.
David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, said he believes that the settlement is “irrelevant to the case against Prince Andrew”.
In a statement, Mr Boies said: “The release does not mention Prince Andrew. He did not even know about it.”
He added: “The reason we sought to have the release made public was to refute the claims being made about it by Prince Andrew’s PR campaign.”
Last week, Mr Kaplan denied a motion from Prince Andrew’s lawyers to halt the civil case while the issue of where Ms Giuffre lives is dealt with.
Ms Giuffre is reported to have been living in Australia with her Australian husband and three children for a number of years.
Meanwhile, Prince Andrew’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell is awaiting sentencing after she was convicted days after her 60th birthday last month of helping to procure teenage girls for her ex-boyfriend Epstein to sexually abuse. She could spend the rest of her life behind bars.
Prince Andrew has claimed that he has no recollection of meeting Ms Giuffre when she was a teenager, despite a widely-published photograph taken by Epstein, that shows him with his arm around her waist in Maxwell’s townhouse in London in 2001.
According to Ms Giuffre, she went for dinner with Prince Andrew, Maxwell and Epstein, and then on to the members-only nightclub Tramp – a day that she said was the first time she met the royal.
In 2019, Epstein died in New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Centre while he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.
On Monday, two prison guards who were allegedly asleep when Epstein was said to have taken his own life were officially cleared after a judge signed off on their non-prosecution agreement.
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