US authorities have formally requested Prince Andrew answer questions as a witness in a criminal probe into sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, according to reports.
The Department of Justice has submitted a mutual legal assistance (MLA) request to the Home Office as federal prosecutors investigate disgraced financier Epstein’s offending, the Sun newspaper and US broadcasters reported.
It comes just weeks after a Netflix documentary on Epstein was released featuring Virginia Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, who has alleged she had sex with Andrew in 2001 after being trafficked to the UK by the American.
Giuffre has urged Andrew to speak to authorities but a US lawyer said in March that Andrew had “completely shut the door” on co-operating with investigators over the probe.
Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Giuffre.
Andrew stepped away from royal duties following his disastrous Newsnight interview in November about his relationship with Epstein, who apparently killed himself in his jail cell while awaiting trial for sex trafficking.
Four days after last year’s Newsnight interview, Andrew said in a statement he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required”.
But Geoffrey Berman, who is leading the Epstein inquiry, told reporters in March: “Contrary to Prince Andrew’s very public offer to co-operate with our investigation into Epstein’s co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary co-operation and our office is considering its options.”
Giuffre alleges that Andrew had sex with her on three separate occasions, including when she was 17, still a minor under US law.
Giuffre also said in an interview with BBC Panorama that she was left “horrified and ashamed” after an alleged sexual encounter with Andrew in London in 2001.
MLA requests by other states are used to obtain assistance in an investigation or prosecution of criminal offences, generally when cooperation cannot be obtained by law enforcement agencies.
According to Home Office guidance, it is “usual policy” that the existence of a request is neither confirmed or denied.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?