Prince Andrew accepts service of sexual assault lawsuit

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Prince Andrew accepts service of sex offences lawsuit


LAW | LEGAL CASES | UK | USA | PRINCE ANDREW

FACT BOX: Unlike in the UK, in the USA when a civil case is brought, legal papers must be served on the defendant. When US citizens attempt to take UK citizens to court in civil litigation, the UK defendants typically do not accept service of the legal papers and the cases struggle to proceed. If a US judge believes this to be intentional and unreasonable however the US judge may simply rule the entire case in favour of the US claimant by default. 

Prince Andrew, who’s mother is the Queen of England, has accepted service of civil litigation in a sex offences case from the US.

The Prince is accused of sexually abusing a US citizen who was 17 years old at the time. Whilst the legal age of consent in the UK is 16, the age of consent in the US is 18. The UK also only recognises statutory rape for those under the age of 13, in the US this is also 18.

Virginia Giuffre, previously known as Virginia Louise Roberts, an American Australian, the Prince’s accuser, and Prince Andrew have finally agreed service was effected as of 21 September 2021, according to a joint court filing. This follows weeks Giuffre’s legal team accusing he Prince of “hiding behind palace walls” to avoid being served the papers.

Process servers from the US have claimed that they emailed, posted and personally handed copies of the legal papers to security guards and police officers outside of the Prince’s homes.

The Prince’s legal team however had argued that they had not received any such documentation and that the security guards and police do not have authority to be served legal papers on Prince Andrew’s behalf.

FACT BOX: Prince Andrew is facing no criminal charges in the UK or the US. The legal case is civil litigation seeking financial damages. 

Giuffre has alleged in her lawsuit that the prince forced her to have sex with him when she was underage (by US law, not UK law) at the London (UK) home of Ghislaine Maxwell, a long-time associate of convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, two decades ago.

Additionally Giuffre is claiming Prince Andrew abused her at around the same time at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan, USA and again on the Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.

A filing with the US District Court in Manhattan shows the prince has now finally accepted service of the legal papers after Giuffre’s legal team suggested thatUS judges may rule against the Prince by default should he continue to evade service.

The Prince’s legal team had additionally argued that only a formal diplomatic envoy could request to serve legal papers to a member of the Royal family. The argued that civilians and their civilian legal teams do not have authority or jurisdiction in the UK to claim against members of the Royal family.

However, this stance received a significant backlash in public opinion in the UK. The UK does allow exemption from litigation for the Royal family domestically, such exemptions extend to certain government bodies, US diplomatic staff and their families and the Royal families and diplomatic assignments from a selection of other nations. Notably the UK does not extend litigation exemptions to all members of overseas Royal families, only selected members.

Subject to court approval, Prince Andrew now has until 29 October 2021 to formally respond to the lawsuit with a defence statement. Prince Andrew has not waived his right to issue a defence against Giuffre’s claims and continues to strenuously denied the allegations. Staff for the Prince have indicated their option that the allocations are malicious and financially motivated.

Prince Andrew’s US-based lawyers declined to comment to Reuters news agency, while Guiffre’s lawyers did not immediately respond to the agency’s requests for comment. 

The Prince’s lawyers are seeking to review a 2009 settlement agreement from another civil lawsuit against Epstein in Florida to determine whether it requires a dismissal of Giuffre’s case. It is argued that in the currently sealed settlement that Epstein agreed to pay out large financial damages to Giuffre on the condition that she may not legally be allowed to make further financial claims regarding the issue, either from Epstein or anybody else. This, if correct, would prima facia not permit Giuffre from claiming additional financial damages from Prince Andrew.

38-year-old Giuffre is seeking unspecified damages, which her legal team describe as “very substantial” and insiders have suggested are “at least eight figures”.

Giuffre claims that she was a “sex-trafficking victim” of Epstein, who killed himself awaiting criminal trail in 2019. Giuffre has long maintained a list of sexual accusations against Epstein, Maxwell and Prince Andrew. Epstein died awaiting trial and Maxwell is currently on remand in the US awaiting criminal trial. Prince Andrew faces no criminal charges, but is now facing a civil hearing.

Disclaimer: This story has been published with the names of the accused and accusers in the interest of balanced news coverage and factual reporting. No images of any parties involved are published in line with the ethical code of conduct that Al-Sahawat times conforms to. 

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© 2021 Al-Sahawat Times, Printed and Distributed by IPMG, an Al-Said Group entity. 


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About the Author

Amira Bakr
Journalist Since: September 2010 Profession: Investigative Journalist Graduated in: 2008 Based in: London, UK Previous professional experience: New York, Moscow, Dubai, Beirut Languages: English, Arabic, Russian, French
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