Prince Andrew has been accused of hiding from a sexual assault lawsuit as a US judge ruled legal papers could be served through his LA-based lawyers.
Legal representatives for American Virginia Giuffre claimed the Duke of York had been “actively evading” formal efforts to serve him with a lawsuit alleging he abused her when she was a teenager.
Ms Giuffre’s legal team said it had served papers on the Queen’s son by handing them to a Metropolitan Police officer on duty in Windsor last month.
However, Prince Andrew’s lawyers argued the royal had not been properly served documents relating to the lawsuit.
US district judge Lewis Kaplan on Thursday ruled Ms Giuffre’s plan to deliver her lawsuit to the royal’s LA-based lawyer was “reasonably calculated to bring the papers served to the defendant’s attention”.
He ruled barely six hours after Ms Giuffre, 38, formally requested his intervention, saying “service is not intended to be a game of hide and seek behind palace walls”.
The judge’s decision also came just a day after London’s High Court said it would arrange for the duke to be served if the parties failed to work out their own arrangement.
The 61-year-old royal was sued for unspecified damages by Ms Giuffre last month, who accused him of battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress over alleged misconduct from about two decades ago.
Ms Giuffre would have been 17, and therefore still a minor under US law, at the time of Andrew’s alleged abuse, which she said occurred around the time his friend, the financier and convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, was sexually abusing her.
Prince Andrew has denied all allegations, while his lawyer Andrew Brettler branded Ms Giuffre’s case a “baseless, nonviable, potentially unlawful lawsuit” during a court hearing on Monday.
Virginia Giuffre’s lawyers have accused the Duke of York of ‘actively evading’ formal efforts to serve him legal papers
The duke, who has been staying at the Queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland for the past month, stepped down from royal duties after details emerged about his relationship with Epstein, a registered sex offender who killed himself in a Manhattan jail in August 2019 while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
A separate judge on Thursday said Prince Andrew could request the unsealing of a 2009 settlement agreement that his lawyer claims protects him from Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit.
Judge Loretta Preska said in a written order that the duke could seek the information to support arguments the agreement between Ms Giuffre and Epstein disallow her lawsuit against the royal.
Mr Brettler, representing the duke, told a Manhattan federal judge he believed the settlement agreement “absolves our client from any and all liability”.
In her lawsuit, Ms Giuffre accused Andrew of forcing her to have sexual intercourse at the London home of Epstein’s long-time associate Ghislaine Maxwell.
Ms Giuffre alleged Andrew abused her at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan and on Epstein’s private island in the US Virgin Islands.
Ms Maxwell faces a November 29 trial on charges she helped recruit and groom underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse. She has pleaded not guilty.
Andrew has not been charged with any crime.
Additional reporting by agencies