Senior members of the British Royal Family are reportedly “deeply shocked” that Prince Andrew has asked for a jury trial.
The Prince, 61, is being sued for sexual assault in a civil case in the US bought by Virginia Giuffre. The 38-year-old alleges she was made to have sex with the Prince on three occasions when she was 17 (then known by her maiden name of Virginia Roberts).
Giuffre says she was forced to have sex with the Prince by the late, convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein and his on-off girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.
Prince Andrew vehemently denies the claims of assault and rape. His lawyers have been attempting to have the case thrown out, but earlier this month, New York Judge Lewis A Kaplan rejected their motion to dismiss.
On Wednesday, the Prince’s lawyers filed an 11-page document listing further reasons for dismissal, such as Giuffre no longer living in the US. It also stated that the Prince demanded a trial by jury, although Giuffre herself had also asked for this.
A source reportedly told The Sun, “After the car crash of Newsnight no-one thinks a seven-hour deposition is a good idea. If he were to appear in court it could be many times worse and senior royals were deeply shocked when they heard that he was demanding a jury trial.
“The best outcome for everyone is that this is settled as soon as possible. There are deep, deep worries that this will get worse and worse for the family and will overshadow Platinum Jubilee celebrations.”
In November 2019, Prince Andrew gave an interview to the BBC’s Newsnight, in an attempt to defend himself from the allegations. However, resulting interview was a PR disaster.
The Platinum Jubilee refers to Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne. The UK has numerous events planned to mark the occasion.
Reporting on the Prince’s lawyers’ latest filing, the BBC’s Royal Reporter, Nicholas Witchell, said, “I think Buckingham Palace, which has pushed Prince Andrew and this whole case as far away as it possibly can, will be viewing this with suppressed horror.”
The document filed Wednesday by the Prince’s team again denies the allegations leveled against him. It also denies that he was a close friend of Ghislaine Maxwell (who was found guilty last month in her own sex trafficking trial). This is despite the existence of numerous photos of Maxwell and Andrew together.
Among the reasons given to dismiss the case, his lawyers ask the judge to consider the issues of consent, saying, “Assuming, without admitting, that Giuffre has suffered any injury or damage alleged in the complaint, Giuffre’s claims are barred by the doctrine of consent.”
It also says the case should be thrown as, “Giuffre’s alleged causes of action are barred in whole or in part by her own wrongful conduct.” Some, including Giuffre’s lawyers, see this as an attempt to blame her for the situation in which she found herself.
Some legal experts believe the Prince’s latest move, including the demand for a jury trial, could be a bluff to buy the Royal more time.
In a statement, David Boies, who is representing Ms. Giuffre, said his client and legal team “look forward to confronting Prince Andrew with his denials and attempts to blame Ms. Giuffre for her own abuse at his deposition and at trial”.