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Duke of York ‘must co-operate’ with investigators over Epstein – victims’ lawyer

UK News | Published:

The royal has stepped down from public duties.

Duke of York

The Duke of York “must cooperate” with US authorities investigating Jeffrey Epstein, a lawyer for some of the American sex offender’s alleged victims has said.

The demand came after Andrew – the Queen’s second son – announced he would step down from public duties for the “foreseeable future”, in an unprecedented move for a royal in modern times.

Pressure had been mounting on the duke in the wake of his weekend Newsnight interview about his relationship with Epstein.

The royal said in a statement on Wednesday evening that he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.

But Lisa Bloom, as lawyer representing some of Epstein’s victims, demanded further action by the duke.

“Prince Andrew was simply not credible in his interview,” Ms Bloom tweeted.

“He and his staff must cooperate with all investigations, show up for civil depositions and trials, and produce all documents. We are just getting started.”

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Ms Bloom’s mother and fellow lawyer Gloria Allred, who also represents victims of the US financier, said Andrew’s position on assisting the authorities was not clear.

She told the BBC: “Is he insisting that he be served with a subpoena to testify, or is he willing to speak to law enforcement without being legally required to do so?

“My clients who are victims of Jeffrey Epstein have spoken to law enforcement without being ‘required’ to do so.”

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She flagged two possible next steps.

“One is the criminal justice investigation to see if charges should be filed in reference to anyone who might have knowingly conspired with Mr Esptein to recruit and to sex traffic underage girls to him.”

The other option was the pursuit of civil lawsuits, like that which she filed on behalf of a woman known as Jane Doe 15, who alleged assault by Epstein when she was aged 15.

Firms including telecoms giant BT and bank Barclays were among a growing number of multimillion-pound businesses, universities and charities which distanced themselves from Andrew amid the fall-out from the Newsnight interview.

It is understood there have been ongoing discussions within the royal family about the situation with Andrew talking to the Queen and the Prince of Wales.

The duke met with the Queen on Wednesday, visiting her at Buckingham Palace before his decision to step down was announced.

Andrew was criticised for showing a lack of empathy towards Epstein’s victims and a lack of remorse over his friendship with the disgraced financier, who took his own life while in prison earlier this year.

In the Newsnight interview, the duke denied claims he slept with Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s victims, on three separate occasions, twice while she was underage.

He said the alleged encounter in 2001 did not happen as he spent the day with his daughter, Princess Beatrice, taking her to Pizza Express in Woking for a party.

Ms Giuffre said the same alleged sexual liaison began with the duke sweating heavily as they danced at London nightclub Tramp.

BBC interview
During the controversial BBC interview (Mark Harrison/BBC/PA)

But the duke said he had a medical condition at the time which meant he did not sweat.

He said he had no recollection of meeting Ms Giuffre.

When asked by the BBC’s Emily Maitlis if he regretted the “whole friendship with Epstein”, the duke replied: “Now, still not and the reason being is that the people that I met and the opportunities that I was given to learn either by him or because of him were actually very useful.”

The duke cancelled a visit to flood-ravaged communities in South Yorkshire on Tuesday.

Trooping the Colour
The Queen with the Prince of Wales and the Duke of York on the Buckingham Palace balcony (Victoria Jones/PA)

He faced a barrage of firms and other organisations terminating or reviewing their association with his Pitch@Palace tech entrepreneurs initiative.

Barclays said it was concerned about the situation and was keeping its involvement with Pitch@Palace under review, while BT warned it would only continue to back the digital skills award programme, iDEA, if Andrew was dropped as patron.

Asian-focused bank Standard Chartered joined KPMG in deciding not to renew its sponsorship of Pitch@Palace.

London Metropolitan University was considering the duke’s role as its patron, while a student panel at Huddersfield University passed a motion to lobby Andrew to resign as its chancellor.

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