Prince Andrew: Why The Hearing For Virginia Guiffre's Civil Case Matters

A judge is currently deciding whether to throw the entire lawsuit out.
The civil case against Prince Andrew has made international news once again
The civil case against Prince Andrew has made international news once again
POOL New via Reuters

Virginia Giuffre’s civil case against Prince Andrew is under scrutiny again as a New York judge considers the Duke of York’s attempts to get the entire lawsuit dropped.

In Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Lewis Kaplan heard a motion from the royal’s legal team to get the civil case dismissed, based on a previously confidential document which just went public.

Here’s everything you need to know.

What’s the civil case about?

Giuffre – also known by the surname Roberts – claims Andrew had sex with her in London, New York and the US Virgin Islands. She alleges that he was aware she was just 17, meaning she was a minor under US law at the time.

She also claims that during this period, between 2000 and 2002, she was being sex trafficked by the royal’s former friend, the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. He killed himself behind bars before his criminal trial in 2019.

Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages from Andrew. The Duke has consistently denied all allegations.

What’s the hearing about?

Andrew’s lawyers called for a document dating back to 2009 to be made public earlier this year.

The document, a confidential settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein, was released to the public on Monday.

It proves that Giuffre agreed to relinquish her right to make any kind of legal claim against the disgraced financier in exchange for $500,000 (ÂŁ371,722).

According to the agreement, Giuffre also gave up her right to make a legal claim “against any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant from all, and all manner of action and actions of Virginia Roberts”.

It adds: “As a material consideration in settling, First Parties and Second Parties agree that the terms of the Settlement Agreement are not intended to be used by any other person nor be admissible in any proceeding or case against or involving Jeffrey Epstein, either civil or criminal.”

Giuffre filed her civil case in the US in August 2021
Giuffre filed her civil case in the US in August 2021
New York Daily News via Getty Images

Why would this new document change anything?

Andrew’s lawyers argued that this settlement should end Giuffre’s lawsuit against the Duke, as they allege he is included in the group of individuals she cannot make a legal claim against.

Although Andrew’s name is not mentioned directly, Giuffre did previously refer to being trafficked by “royalty” in the 2009 agreement.

Andrew B Brettler, who represents the Duke of York, said the settlement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here”.

However, Giuffre’s legal team argued that the exact wording of the document relates to Epstein directly – and not to the prince.

This argument is supported by the fact that the document was supposed to be confidential, as Judge Kaplan pointed out during the hearing.

What happens next?

The judge said after Tuesday’s hearing that he will reach a conclusion on the motion to dismiss “pretty soon”.

Based on the judge’s response to the arguments from the royal’s lawyers, legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg QC speculated: “I don’t think it’s looking particularly good for Prince Andrew on this particular point.”

The judge has not yet provided a timeline for when he might reach his decision.

Guiffre’s lawyer Boies also told the i newspaper earlier this week that Andrew will have serious questions to answer during the next stages of the case, if it is not thrown out.

He said: “If the court denies Prince Andrew’s motion to dismiss, he will have to confront the fact that he does not have any evidence to support his public assertions that he was at a Pizza Express when Virginia Giuffre alleges he was with her in Ms Maxwell’s London home or that he could not have sweated on her because he has a medical condition that prevents him from sweating.”

Could Maxwell’s verdict have an impact?

Epstein’s ex-girlfriend and Andrew’s former close friend Ghislaine Maxwell has just been convicted of consciously helping the disgraced financier sexually abuse girls and young women for years.

She is expected to face at least 40 years behind bars after being found guilty, although her family claim she is appealing the verdict.

According to The Mirror, Andrew feared being named in the trial against Maxwell by her victims – but he was not mentioned. There was no indication the Duke of York was involved with Maxwell and Epstein’s criminal wrongdoing in the trial.

The Metropolitan Police has also confirmed it will not be investigating Giuffre’s claims about any abuse which is alleged to have taken place in the UK.

Andrew is not facing any legal action in the UK.

Yet, as the BBC’s Dominic Casciani pointed out, the conviction of Maxwell means one of Andrew’s “former closest friends is now a convicted abuser”, which could cast a shadow over the civil case.

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