The Duke of York’s legal team has made an ‘unprecedented’ request for witness depositions to be sealed, meaning they cannot be made public, a lawyer representing accuser Virginia Giuffre claimed
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Prince Andrew’s legal team has made an “unprecedented” call for witness testimony to be kept secret in his sex abuse case – amid claims he should be “quaking in his boots”.
The Duke, who is accused of sexually abusing trafficked teenager Virginia Giuffre, has called for depositions – including his own – to be kept under seal ahead of a crunch court showdown next week.
Ms Giuffre’s representatives say there is “no logic or authority for such a provision”.
It comes following the conviction of his pal Ghislaine Maxwell, who was last night found guilty of five out of six charges of sex trafficking at her New York trial.
She could face more than 60 years behind bars, but sparked speculation she could name names in a bid to reduce her sentence.
Maxwell was spotted talking to a TV producer in court.
The Queen’s second son is attempting to get Ms Giuffre’s civil case thrown out, claiming that his accuser cannot bring the action against him because she is not a US resident.
Ms Giuffre, now 38, claims she was trafficked to London where she claims she was forced to sleep with the Duke while she was a ‘teen sex slave’ of paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who was then a close friend of Andrew.
The royal vehemently denies the allegations.
Attorney Linda Bloom, who represents several of Epstein’s victims, said the Maxwell verdict should cause alarm for the Duke’s camp.
She told DailyMail.com: “He should be quaking in his boots.
“Because this shows that a jury is willing to come back with a guilty verdict even if the accusers are not perfect, as no human being is.”
Ms Giuffre’s civil case will be heard in front of a jury.
Ms Bloom pointed out that Andrew has previously said he was closer to Maxwell than to Epstein, and added that the former’s conviction “just brings us one step closer to Prince Andrew”.
This week Maxwell was seen talking to a producer from ABC News in the New York courtroom, sparking speculation that she might be willing to point the finger at others involved in her and Epstein’s sick world.
Piers Morgan tweeted: “Will vile sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell now sing like a canary to avoid spending the rest of her life in prison?
“If she does, there could be a lot of rich, powerful & famous people sweating tonight… and not sweating.”
Andrew’s appeal to get the civil case – in which Ms Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages – thrown out will be heard in New York next week.
A letter sent by Ms Giuffre’s representative Sigrid McCawley to the Duke’s lead council Andrew Brettler, reveals the unusual request for statements to be kept secret, The Telegraph reports.
It is unclear how much of the witness testimony Andrew’s team are seeking to be sealed.
In the letter, dated Christmas Eve, Ms McCawley wrote: “The main substantive disagreement in the parties’ drafts is your inclusion of an unprecedented paragraph, which would allow you to keep deposition materials sealed from the public even if neither party designates the underlying testimony as confidential.”
Ms McCawley said there was “no logic or authority for such a provision” – adding that Andrew’s team had left it too late to ask for a confidentiality order.
A source close to the Duke told The Mirror: “Such a request or offer to keep things confidential is certainly not unprecedented, rather it would be considered standard practice in any high profile case.
“However, it seems like Ms Giuffre and her lawyers want to try this case in the media instead of a court room…..”
On Tuesday next week Judge Lewis Kaplan will hear the Duke’s argument to dismiss the case.
But even if he succeeds, Ms McCawley said, the matter will not go away, as her client would re-file her civil action.
“The parties in this action will need to resolve this dispute one way or another,” she said.
Earlier this week it emerged that the Duke’s representatives had called or the case to be halted, claiming Ms Giuffre is not a US resident – meaning she could not make the claim under a federal law court.
Ms McCawley called that argument “another in a series of tired attempts by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the serious case Virginia Giuffre has brought.”
Epstein’s ‘madam’ Maxwell now faces up to 65 years in jail after yesterday’s verdict.
Ms Giuffre, 38, tweeted: “My soul yearned for justice for years and the jury gave me just that. I will remember this day always.
“Having lived with the horrors of Maxwell’s abuse, my heart goes out to the many other girls and young women who suffered at her hands and whose lives she destroyed.
“I hope that today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served. Maxwell did not act alone. Others must be held accountable. I have faith that they will be.”
Last night Andrew’s legal team was locked in talks following the Maxwell verdict.
The Mirror reported that the jurors’ decision is likely to have sparked fear in the Duke of York’s legal team given the burden of proof in a criminal case is far higher than that needed in a civil case, like the one Andrew is facing.
Legal experts in the States point to how OJ Simpson was cleared criminally of Nicole Brown’s death but was found guilty in a private case brought by her family.
Crimes in America must generally be proved “beyond a reasonable doubt”, whereas civil cases are proved by lower standards of proof such as “the preponderance of the evidence”.
Despite their concerns, the royal’s lawyers maintain Maxwell’s New York trial was “disastrous” for his accuser Virginia Giuffre, who the prosecution refused to call despite allegedly being Jeffrey Epstein’s long time teen ‘sex slave’.