Prince Andrew accuser unlikely to take cash settlement alone – lawyer

Prince Andrew now faces the prospect of Virginia Giuffre giving a detailed account in court of the allegation she was trafficked to have sex with him when 17 years old.

Virginia Giuffre would be unlikely to accept a “purely financial settlement” to end her sexual assault civil lawsuit against Britain’s Prince Andrew, her lawyer has said.

David Boies was speaking after a US judge rejected the royal’s motion to have the civil case against him dismissed, paving the way for a possible civil trial in the autumn.

Legal experts say one way for Prince Andrew (61) to avoid trial would be to reach an out-of-court settlement with Giuffre (38) who claims she was trafficked by financier Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with powerful people, including Prince Andrew, when she was 17.

The royal has consistently denied her allegations.

“I think it’s very important to Virginia Giuffre that this matter be resolved in a way that vindicates her and vindicates the other victims,” said Mr Boies.

“I don’t think that she has a firm view at this point, nor could she, as to exactly what the resolution should be. But I think what’s going to be important is that this resolution vindicates her and vindicates the claim she’s made,” he told BBC’s Newsnight.

Mr Boies said there had been no suggestion of settlement discussions at this point. He said that prior to bringing the case they had “reached out” to Andrew and the prince’s lawyers and suggested mediation, but “there was no interest in that at that time. Whether that has changed or not, I think we’ll have to wait and see.”

He added: “A purely financial settlement is not anything that I think she’s [Giuffre] interested in.”

When asked about the US ruling, Buckingham Palace replied: “We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter.”

The prince now faces the prospect of Ms Giuffre giving a detailed account in court of the allegation she was trafficked to have sex with him when she was 17.

Manhattan federal judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed a motion by the prince’s lawyers on Wednesday to have the civil case thrown out after they argued Ms Giuffre had waived her right to pursue the royal by signing a confidential settlement in 2009 with Epstein, in exchange for $500,000, in which she agreed not to sue any other potential defendants.

In his detailed ruling, the judge decided there was more than one interpretation of the 2009 deal. He said it was ambiguous and premature to consider the points raised by the prince to cast doubt on Ms Giuffre’s claims, though his efforts would be permissible at trial.

The ruling means the case now moves to the discovery phase. As it progresses towards trial, the prince, Ms Giuffre and any other potential witnesses would have to give depositions.

Important step

Ms Boies said the judge’s ruling was “an important step” in moving towards any trial. “It is, however, just one step and there are many more steps to be taken,” he said. The next would be the taking of evidence and they are already exchanging documents, he added.

He said the prince had made many statements in his 2019 Newsnight interview, “which he will have to try and back up in his deposition”.

The prince’s approach had been “to deny, deny, deny, to blame Virginia, to criticise her, to attack her character, her moral credibility, and we will see how all that plays out when he’s under oath”, said Mr Boies.

Asked whether, if the case went to trial, the prince would be likely to appear in person, Mr Boies said he thought the chances of the case going to trial were good.

“Whether he shows up himself, or simply his lawyers, is something that is in part up to him, and in part up to the court. In a civil case it is not always necessary for the defendant to be present when the trial takes place. It’s typically advisable because it is often hard to defend yourself when you’re absent,” he said.

The prince has three main options: ignoring the lawsuit, which is his right; engaging with the American legal system to defend himself against the allegations; or attempting to reach an out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre. If he ignores the civil proceedings, a default judgment would be made in favour of Ms Giuffre. – Guardian