Britain’s Prince Andrew has been urged to challenge his legal settlement with a woman who claims that she was trafficked to have sex with him when she was a teenager.
Alan Dershowitz, an American lawyer who himself was previously accused by Virginia Giuffre of sexual abuse, told the Guardian that the prince should attempt to revisit an out-of-court settlement he agreed with Ms Giuffre a year ago.
In November, Ms Giuffre dropped a lawsuit relating to a sexual assault claim against Mr Dershowitz, which he always denied, conceding she “may have made a mistake in identifying” him. That appears to have given fresh hope to supporters of the prince, who has also always denied Giuffre’s allegations against him.
It comes amid signs of a gathering campaign to rehabilitate Andrew, which is likely to create a headache for his older brother, King Charles, as he prepares for his coronation on May 6th. Andrew paid millions to settle Ms Giuffre’s claim that she was trafficked to have sex with him on three occasions when she was 17 years old. The settlement did not include any admission of guilt.
This weekend, a staged photo was published purporting to undermine Ms Giuffre’s claims of Andrew’s sexual activity with her.
The image of a bath in a London town house was released by Ian Maxwell, the brother of Ghislaine Maxwell, a former friend of the prince, who is in jail for sex trafficking offences. It shows two people sitting in the bath of Ghislaine Maxwell’s former flat wearing masks of the prince and Ms Giuffre in an attempt to prove “conclusively that the bath is too small for any sort of sex frolicking” of the sort Ms Giuffre had suggested happened in an unpublished memoir.
The gambit comes days after Ghislaine Maxwell claimed in an interview from prison that a photo showing Andrew with his arm around Ms Giuffre’s waist was faked.
The staged bath image was dismissed as “insulting” by sources close to Ms Giuffre, who said it “proves nothing”. But asked if Andrew should challenge the settlement he made, Mr Dershowitz said: “I think he should. This may be only the tip of a very deep iceberg. The media should continue to probe every allegation in an effort to get to the truth.”
[ Prince Andrew accuser Virginia Giuffre ‘signs book deal’ for autobiography ]
There are also suggestions that other US lawyers are poised to try to help the prince challenge a legal settlement that has cast him into the royal wilderness. Andrew has reportedly consulted the US lawyers Andrew Brettler and Blair Berk over possible legal moves that could assist his rehabilitation.
Releasing the bathroom mock-up image, Ian Maxwell told the Daily Telegraph he had not been in contact with the prince, but offered it as a potential exhibit if it helped his case.
Lisa Bloom, a lawyer who has represented victims of the sex trafficking ring operated by Ghislaine Maxwell and the billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, said the move appeared “desperate”.
“The photo shows that two full-sized humans can fit in the bath,” Ms Bloom said, according to the Mail on Sunday. “Virginia said that Andrew began by playing with her feet in the bath. The photo shows that would certainly be possible. Virginia said that she and Andrew then moved into the bedroom where the sexual activity occurred. Nothing in the photo disproves that. Instead of continuing to attack victims, [Maxwell] should be apologising for the pain she has caused to so many.”
[ Ghislaine Maxwell wishes she ‘never met’ Jeffrey Epstein, she tells TV interviewer ]
Andrew’s settlement with Ms Giuffre triggered a stripping of his public duties and royal patronages. At the funeral of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, last September he was denied the right to wear military uniform, unlike his siblings.
Charles is already grappling with how to handle Prince Harry’s attendance at the state event after his explosive memoir accused the royals of stereotyping his wife, Meghan, and Prince William of knocking him to the floor in a row.
“The king will have been hoping for a quiet run-up to the coronation … untroubled by outside noises,” said a former senior royal aide, who predicted that any rehabilitation attempt by Andrew was likely to fail.
“Even if you want to argue about the size of the bath, Andrew made the settlement,” they said. “More than that, he had a long relationship with Epstein culminating in the BBC Newsnight interview [in which he defended staying with Epstein at his New York mansion after Epstein’s conviction for sex offences as ‘the honourable and right thing to do’]. I am sure they will want to continue with the policy of having him as a private member of the family, not living at Buckingham Palace.”
Andrew continues to live at Royal Lodge, Windsor, leased from the crown estate. Even before Andrew settled with Ms Giuffre, Charles had been planning a slimmed-down monarchy with fewer key players.
Spokespeople for Andrew and Buckingham Palace have been approached for comment. – Guardian