The Duke of York’s lawyers have requested that a New York judge throw out a lawsuit accusing him of sexually abusing a 17-year-old girl.
Prince Andrew’s legal team said that he “never sexually abused or assaulted” accuser Virginia Giuffre.
In papers filed in Manhattan federal court, Andrew Brettler, the prince’s attorney, said: “Without diminishing the harm suffered as a result of [Jeffrey] Epstein’s alleged misconduct, Prince Andrew never sexually abused or assaulted Giuffre. He unequivocally denies Giuffre’s false allegations against him.”
Mr Brettler has asked that the lawsuit, which he described as “baseless”, be thrown out or that lawyers for Ms Giuffre be required to refile the lawsuit with a more definitive statement of her allegations.
“Accusing a member of the world’s best known royal family of serious misconduct has helped Giuffre create a media frenzy online and in the traditional press. It is unfortunate, but undeniable, that sensationalism and innuendo have prevailed over the truth,” the filing said.
“Giuffre has initiated this baseless lawsuit against Prince Andrew to achieve another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him. Epstein’s abuse of Giuffre does not justify her public campaign against Prince Andrew,” the written arguments said.
Ms Giuffre claimed in her August lawsuit that the prince abused her on multiple occasions in 2001. Andrew has said even before the court papers were filed on Friday that he never had sex with her.
Mr Brettler had included in the arguments a copy of a 2009 settlement agreement that he believes protects his client from being sued.
According to the arguments on the prince’s behalf, Ms Giuffre’s 2009 settlement of sex trafficking and sexual abuse claims against Epstein included a general release of all claims against him and numerous other individuals and entities.
“To avoid being dragged into future legal disputes, Epstein negotiated for this broad release, insisting that it cover any and all persons who Giuffre identified as potential targets of future lawsuits, regardless of the merit – or lack thereof – to any such claims,” the papers said.
The pages of the settlement reached between Ms Giuffre and Epstein were blacked out when they were included in Friday’s submission as “Exhibit A”.
The financier was found dead in his cell in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial at a New York federal jail. He was ruled to have taken his own life.
Earlier this week, Mr Brettler said in a written submission to the judge that the agreement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here”.
When he requested that the documents be filed under seal, Mr Brettler said neither he nor lawyers for Ms Giuffre believed that it was necessary to keep the 2009 settlement agreement secret except for the fact that it is under seal in another civil litigation in Manhattan federal court.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for next week.
The filing of papers by Mr Brettler comes after the deadline for depositions to be completed in the lawsuit was set for mid-July of next year.
While not specified in the court papers, both Andrew and his accuser Ms Giuffre are expected to answer questions under oath.
District judge Lewis Kaplan, who serves in the Southern District of New York, ruled that depositions must be completed on or before 14 July 2022.
The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations will take place in June, potentially setting up a clash with Prince Andrew’s legal issues over the summer.
Additional reporting by AP