Prince Andrew has hit back at accusations of rape and sexual assault made by his accuser Virginia Giuffre, who was this month handed the right to take the Queen’s son to trial in the United States
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Prince Andrew has made the “ultimate gamble” by putting himself at the mercy of a jury in his civil sex case, royal sources have said.
The Duke of York has hit back at accusations of rape and sexual assault made by his accuser Virginia Giuffre, who was this month handed the right to take the Queen’s son to trial in the United States.
In his first official response to the court regarding claims made against him last August, the Queen’s are issued 41 straight denials of Ms Guiffre’s allegations.
Andrew, 61, rejected all allegations of wrongdoing and demanded to have a “trial by jury” as sources close to the Duke told The Mirror he is “committed to clearing his name”.
But royal insiders tonight questioned the “counter attack” tactics, which senior royals are understood to fear could expose Andrew while causing irreparable damage to the monarchy and overshadow the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Ms Guiffre, now 38, claims she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew on three occasions in 2001 when 17 and was trafficked around the world to be used as a “sex slave” by the Duke’s paedophile pal, the disgraced late financier Jeffrey Epstein .
She said: “He needs to be held accountable. We need to show the world that the rich and the mighty can fall too.”
In a further 40 statements, Andrew suggested that he “lacks sufficient information to admit or deny” other allegations, including an infamous picture of himself with 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, as she was then known, at the home of his long time pal and convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell.
The Duke went on to claim he was not a “close friend” Maxwell, who is facing 65 years behind bars, despite knowing her for 40 years and inviting her to Buckingham Palace and the Queen’s Balmoral estate with her lover Epstein.
One royal source said: “It’s the ultimate gamble.
“He is putting himself at the mercy of a jury and attempting to distance himself from people like Ghislaine Maxwell, when he is on record discussing their friendship and has known her for decades.
“This is certainly a huge shift in mood from previous suggestions that everything was ‘in hand’ and questions will certainly be asked about the wisdom of a bullish counter-attack defense so late in the day.”
Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Palace insiders ploughed on with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations, one leading lawyer said the frenzied international interest in the civil trial could lead to questions about the “relevance” of the royal family.
Media lawyer Mark Stephens said Andrew will face detailed questions of a sexual nature when he gives evidence, whether in person or via video link, in the jury trial in the autumn.
He said: “I can’t conceive that the royal family will allow him to run this case and overshadow the Platinum Jubilee.
“It’s going to spark debate about the relevance and appropriateness of the royal family and we’ve already seen that they moved very fast to strip him of his titles and that debate abated but the more detail that comes out the more there’s going to be a problem for the wider royal family.”
Commenting on lurid details that may emerge from the trial, Mr Stephens said: “For example, questions will be asked of Virginia Giuffre about the prince’s body, any marks, his performance, what positions were adopted – every detail that is conceivable to ask and then that will be put to Andrew.”
Neama Rahmani, of West Coast Trial Lawyers in Los Angeles, further warned that “all the dirty laundry is going to be aired in a very public way.”
There is still the prospect that Andrew may reach an out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre, while other legal experts such as Mitra Ahouraian, a Beverly Hills entertainment attorney, suggested the request for trial by jury may help Andrew actually “control the evidence ”.
Significantly, The Mirror can reveal that Andrew’s UK lawyer Gary Bloxsome, dubbed ‘Good News Gary’ in royal circles after allegedly consistently being known for telling the Duke the “best case scenario”, is understood to have taken a back seat in planning for the major case.
US attorney Andrew Brettler, who was brought in last autumn to help Andrew avoid a trial, is now focused on preparing the disgraced royal to fight his case in front of a jury.
Palace sources have been left surprised at his change of direction and “shift in mood” after the Duke consistently told his family there was little to no chance of him facing a civil trial in the United States.
But officials are continuing with Jubilee plans, as the Queen and the rest of the royal family “will do all they can” to not let Andrew’s legal woes ruin Her Majesty’s big year.
A source close to the Duke said: “There is no change in tack as far as the Duke is concerned.
“He has always denied the allegations and will continue to deny them as he fights to clear his name.
“A motion to dismiss was refused and now the Duke will be ready to defend himself in court.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.