Buckingham Palace has now issued multiple denials over allegations Prince Andrew sexually abused an underage girl, an action that is highly unusual for any royal scandal.
In a series of moves that suggest a degree of alarm over the allegations, the usually tight-lipped Palace press office has swiftly and explicitly denied claims against the prince as they emerged in the press.
When the story broke on Friday, a spokesman said that Buckingham Palace ‘categorically’ denied the allegations of Virginia Roberts, who claims to be been sexually assaulted by the Prince on three occasions while he was visiting US millionaire Jeffrey Epstein.
Epstein has been accused of hiring out underage girls to rich and powerful friends throughout the world, with Virginia Roberts claiming that she was one of those girls. He eventually pleaded guilty to a relatively minor charge on paid sex with a minor in a plea deal agreement with the FBI, who then dropped their investigation into him.
Roberts and another woman have decided to sue the FBI for the decision, claiming it violated the rights of Epstein’s alleged victims. It was the court papers from their lawsuit that named Prince Andrew for the first time.
Usually, Buckingham Palace issues bland, non-committal statements saying that it cannot comment on ongoing court cases, however this time it said it “emphatically” denied Miss Robert’s accusations against the prince.
In another attempt to stem the flow of allegations, the Palace also wrote to British editors on Sunday to remind them of their responsibilities under the law and the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) regulations. Officials are even said to be reviewing news coverage and “assessing the legal position in respect of Sunday’s newspapers.”
The latest court papers also seek disclosure of any documents suggesting Prince Andrew and Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz lobbied the US government to give Epstein a favourable plea-deal and a non-prosecution agreement. Buckingham Palace has once again swiftly hit back by responding: “The Duke of York would not and did not interfere in an active case.”
The Guardian reports that deal states: “If Epstein successfully fulfils all the terms of this agreement, the United States also agrees that it will not institute any criminal charges against any potential co-conspirators of Epstein including but not limited to [four named individuals not including Prince Andrew or Dershowitz].”
This could mean that if the prince were considered a “co-conspirator”, he may never face criminal charges under US law.
Prince Andrew is now at his home at the Royal Lodge at Windsor Castle after flying back to Britain early to discuss the situation with the Queen. Although he is likely to keep a low profile for the time being, he has not cancelled any events.
Alan Dershowitz has spoken out against the allegations since they emerged, accusing Roberts of lying. “She’s lied about other public figures including a former prime minister and others who she claims to have participated in sexual activities with, so I think it must be presumed all her allegations against Prince Andrew were false as well,” he said.
In a statement issue through her lawyers, Roberts said: “These types of aggressive attacks on me are exactly the reason why sexual abuse victims typically remain silent and the reason why I did for a long time. That trend should change. I’m not going to be bullied back into silence.”