Royal News

Prince Andrew breaks silence on US court demands with scathing statement

Prince Andrew has broken his silence with a scathing statement after United States authorities demanded he appears in court.

His lawyers have accused the investigators probing Jeffrey Epstein of 'breaching' the royal's confidentiality via public statements on the case.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) approached the Home Office requesting the royal answers questions over his links to Epstein.

The Duke of York's legal team today slammed the American authorities, accusing them of dragging him into the spotlight in order to gain publicity for the investigation into the billionaire paedophile.

Andrew's lawyers issued the 'clarifying' statement today on his behalf saying the Duke has not, nor has ever been a target of the DOJ investigation into Epstein.

In the statement, the lawyers also claim the royal had not shunned bids to assist with the inquiry - saying he had offered to help US officials at least three times during their ongoing investigation.

The statement released today said: "Importantly, the DOJ advised us that the duke is not and has never been a 'target' of their criminal investigations into Epstein and that they sought his confidential, voluntary cooperation. 

"In the course of these discussions, we asked the DOJ to confirm that our co-operation and any interview arrangements would remain confidential, in accordance with the ordinary rules that apply to voluntary co-operation with the DOJ.

"We were given an unequivocal assurance that our discussions and the interview process would remain confidential.

"The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ.

"Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero co-operation.

"In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered. "

As part of the formal 'Mutual Legal Assistance' request (MLA), American and British authorities can cooperate when evidence needs to be gathered in a prosecution or investigation of criminal offences.

If approved by the Home Office, the FBI could ask Andrew, 60, to be compelled to go to a British court to give evidence under oath as a witness if he refused to cooperate.

It would be up to the judge in the UK to decide if the hearing was in open court. 

If US prosecutors wanted to extradite Andrew, they would have to obtain an arrest warrant or a grand jury indictment to make a request to the UK.

However, such a move has been complicated after America's State Department refused an extradition request for ex CIA spy Anne Sacoolas, who fled Britain using diplomatic immunity after being accused of killing teen motorbiker Harry Dunn.

So far Andrew has allegedly refused to be quizzed by New York prosecutors and lawyers representing Epstein's victims although he vehemently denies any wrongdoing. 

He has been accused by the late paedophile's former teen ''sex slave'' Virginia Giuffre of having slept with her three times when show 17, a claim he refutes.

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Although Andrew spent time with Epstein, who committed suicide last August while awaiting trial for underage sex trafficking, he has also denied witnessing any suspicious behaviour by Epstein.

Unlike the Queen, father-of-two Andrew does not hold sovereign immunity from prosecution.

The Home Office told the Mirror: "As a matter of long-standing policy and practice, we neither confirm nor deny the existence of mutual legal assistance requests."

In January, the head of the ongoing criminal probe into Epstein and his enablers, US prosecutor Geoffrey Berman, claimed Andrew has refused to help an FBI investigation.



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