Prince Andrew is to launch a dramatic bid to overturn the multi-million-pound settlement he struck with the woman who accused him of sexual assault.
The Duke of York has consulted lawyers in an attempt to get Virginia Roberts to retract her allegations and possibly secure an apology, The Mail on Sunday understands.
He was inspired to act after Ms Roberts dropped her lawsuit against another man she accused of sexual assault, admitting that she ‘may have made a mistake’ in identifying him.
And sources suggest the King will not oppose any legal action Andrew might take to clear his name – even though Charles previously told his brother he would be permanently exiled from Royal life.
The Duke of York (left), Virginia Giuffre (middle), and Ghislaine Maxwel (right)
NOTORIOUS: Maxwell – above in her interview from jail – cast new doubt on the infamous picture of Andrew, his accuser and herself
Ms Roberts – who now goes by her married name Giuffre – claimed she was forced to have sex with the Prince when she was 17, having been trafficked by convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
In the out-of-court settlement, Andrew accepted no blame, and continues to strenuously deny any wrongdoing. But the scandal damaged his reputation and made him an outcast from the Royal Family. He was stripped of his military titles and asked not to use his HRH title.
However, those close to Andrew claim he always wanted to fight the allegations in court, and was ‘bounced’ into agreeing a deal by Palace forces who feared the negative publicity of the case would overshadow the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
‘Andrew felt as if he was in a pressure-cooker, as if he was given no option but to settle,’ a source said. ‘But he never wanted to settle and has always insisted he was innocent. He wants to see what legal routes might be available to him.
In the out-of-court settlement, Andrew accepted no blame, and continues to strenuously deny any wrongdoing. But the scandal damaged his reputation and made him an outcast from the Royal Family. He was stripped of his military titles and asked not to use his HRH title
‘This isn’t about the money. He wants a route back to some sort of normality after a deeply trying period. I can tell you with confidence that Prince Andrew’s team is now considering legal options.’
American experts say he would have to file what is known as a ‘motion to vacate the stipulation of settlement’. Andrew’s team, led by high-flying lawyers Andrew Brettler and Blair Berk, would have to successfully show good legal reasons to overturn the deal, such as fraud, duress, mistake or accident, although it is not yet clear on what basis they might proceed.
News of his planned fightback comes as former socialite Ghislaine Maxwell gave her first filmed interview from the Florida jail where she is serving a 20-year sentence for procuring teenage girls for Epstein to abuse. In the conversation, to air on TalkTV tomorrow, she said the claims against her ‘dear friend’ Andrew are baseless – an intervention also said to have influenced his decision to challenge the settlement.
The Duke has cut a sorry figure in recent months, particularly since Charles banished him from Royal life. Friends and family feared for his state of mind and it is said he was in tears when he was told he could not wear military uniform for his mother’s funeral.
Andrew’s team, led by high-flying lawyers Andrew Brettler and Blair Berk, would have to successfully show good legal reasons to overturn the deal, such as fraud, duress, mistake or accident, although it is not yet clear on what basis they might proceed
However he was allowed to keep his office at Buckingham Palace, with a source saying he is only now ‘in the process of moving out’ – more than three years after stepping away from Royal duties.
Friends say his mood has changed after Ms Giuffre admitted in November that she ‘may have made a mistake’ in accusing American lawyer Alan Dershowitz of abusing her. She dropped her legal action despite having long maintained that Epstein trafficked her to him.
In her new interview, Maxwell said Andrew should be ‘uplifted’ by that case, and suggested it cast new doubt on Ms Giuffre’s account.
‘Her story frankly has changed multiple times. It’s very hard to know really what’s true or not,’ she said, adding that the true story ‘has yet to unfold’. The 61-year-old again raised questions about the notorious photograph showing Andrew with his arm around a 17-year-old Ms Giuffre at Maxwell’s London home.
‘I have no memory of them meeting and I don’t think that picture is real,’ she said. Although she gave no evidence for it being a fake, Maxwell said: ‘There is no original of that photo, [only] copies of it that have been produced, copies of copies. Parts of it, according to some experts, looks like it has been photoshopped.
‘I don’t remember her in my home. I know that Virginia travelled with Jeffrey, and so it’s entirely possible. But the photo doesn’t appear to be real, and I don’t recall it being taken.’
He was allowed to keep his office at Buckingham Palace, with a source saying he is only now ‘in the process of moving out’ – more than three years after stepping away from Royal duties
The agreement between Andrew and Ms Giuffre is thought to have contained a 12-month gagging clause which will expire next month. That raises the prospect of Ms Giuffre returning to the public eye to talk about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Epstein – who killed himself in jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial for child sex trafficking – and again putting an unwelcome spotlight on Andrew.
Ms Giuffre has consistently maintained her case against the Duke was valid, saying: ‘My goal has always been to show that the rich and powerful are not above the law and must be held accountable.’
However, the Duke will also be free to speak out.
It was originally reported that Giuffre received up to £7.5 million, with £2 million more going to a sex trafficking charity. But the sum paid has never been disclosed and insiders say a deal closer to £3 million was stuck. The Queen is said to have contributed to the settlement.
Maxwell, who is planning to appeal her own conviction, said of the Dershowitz case: ‘I’ve read a lot of [Ms Giuffre’s] depositions, and her statements are very categorical and her stories are very detailed and elaborate, including claiming that she went to his [Dershowitz’s] house. So I think her ‘memory lapses’ are disingenuous. If her memory is so poor, then how can you rely on anything she says?
Who is Daphne Barak?
Daphne Barak is a renowned interviewer and documentary film maker, whose subjects have included Nelson Mandela, Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Johnny Depp and Michael Jackson among many others.
Daphne’s best-selling book Saving Amy, based on her months’ filming with Amy Winehouse and her family, is being adapted into a scripted eight part TV series by Halcyon Studios.
‘When you give a lot of details and make claims that last five, six or seven years, and then suddenly at the last moment decide that it was a memory lapse, I find that hard to credit.’
It is understood that Andrew is now receiving unofficial advice from Dershowitz, who has long argued that the Duke should have stood his ground, saying: ‘Andrew should have not settled. He should have fought for the truth like me.’
In her interview, Maxwell does admit that Andrew could have handled the scandal better, describing his car-crash BBC interview with Emily Maitlis as ‘unfortunate’, adding: ‘I wish he hadn’t done it.’
And she questioned the Duke’s decision to visit Epstein in New York in 2010, two years after the financier was convicted of child sex charges. ‘Obviously it was not good judgment, because it had very severe repercussions,’ she admitted.
Maxwell, who denies she was responsible for introducing Andrew to Epstein, also complained about life inside Tallahassee Federal Correctional Institute. ‘It is very difficult,’ she said. ‘I think we are 105 women in a unit with eight toilets, three telephones and a couple of computers. The noise is extraordinary. It’s probably quieter being next to a 747.’
Buckingham Palace, the Duke’s office and his lawyer all declined to comment last night, as did Ms Giuffre’s lawyer.
How I landed the interview
It took many months and hours of taped question and answer sessions before we could finally complete this first full-length, on camera interview with sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell from behind prison walls
Working closely with my collaborator, Susan Zirinsky, the first woman President of CBS news, we started making our requests soon after Maxwell’s conviction for trafficking back in June.
At the time Maxwell was held in Brooklyn’ notorious Metropolitan Detention Center – and all permission was at first refused. But after weeks of argument, free speech won through and we were allowed to do the most basic of interviews.
Maxwell was understandably cautious when we spoke on the phone and then in August, when we finally met face to face at the MDC.
When I asked about Prince Andrew and his connection to Epstein – and the case which would eventually see Maxwell jailed for 20 years –
she refused to answer.
Maxwell did, though, start chatting about THAT extraordinary photo, the notorious picture showing Andrew with his arm around a 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, who accused him of sex abuse (which he completely denies).
The same picture also shows Ghislaine smiling in the background. It was taken in her flat.
And so we persisted, setting up another question and answer session for October, this time by video. By now Maxwell had been moved to the Tallahassee correctional institute in Florida.
Despite her time behind bars, Maxwell looked good. And this time she was confident – and chatty.
The whole CBS production team were stunned when she made it clear that, so far as she was concerned, Andrew and Virginia did not meet in her London apartment! That the photograph was a fake. And that the claims against Andrew were baseless.
Andrew had never met Virginia at all, she claimed (although Virginia has at all times insisted that the case against the Duke of York is true).
It was only in mid-December that we finally completed the interview . We explained to the prison authorities that Maxwell’s revelations are of huge significance for a senior member of the British Royal family and that we need to complete our line of questioning to get her whole version of events out in public.
The prison authorities did not make it easy, but at last approved another audio interview.
Maxwell continued to surprise us, this time claiming that, to her recollection, Prince Andrew and Virginia never met at any point at all, let alone in London.
For the moment, Prince Andrew is unable to comment on the case, a situation that will change in a few weeks’ time. I expect a great deal more to emerge by then.
Extracts from Daphne’s interview will be shown exclusively on Jeremy Kyle Live: Ghislaine Behind Bars on Monday night on TalkTV at 7pm. Available on Sky 522, Virgin Media 606, Freeview 237 and Freesat 217.
Read her pop culture scoops here
Daphne’s latest book, Struggling for One America, written with Erbil Gunasti, is published by Skyhorse Publishing and is available to buy here
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11661933/Prince-Andrew-consults-lawyers-hope-ending-royal-exile.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 Prince Andrew consults his lawyers in the hope of ending his royal exile