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Sunday, September 26, 2021

Prince Andrew’s team dispute claims accuser served legal papers


Prince Andrew’s team do not believe that legal papers from lawyers for the woman who has accused him of sexual abuse have been successfully served, the BBC understands.

Virginia Giuffre has filed a civil lawsuit against the prince in New York, and legal papers must be “served” before the case can move forward.

According to her lawyers, she was left with a police officer at his home in Windsor.

Ms Giuffre’s claims are all denied by Prince Andrew.

Before any case can be heard, a US judge must decide whether the papers have been “served” on Monday.

The video conference, which is scheduled for a New York court, will discuss the case’s next steps.

The Queen’s son, Prince Andrew, is currently at Balmoral, the royal family’s Scottish estate.

According to court documents from Ms Guiffre’s lawyers, he has until September 17 to respond to the affidavit, and “if you fail to respond, judgement by default will be entered against you for the relief demanded in the complaint.”

According to court documents, a process server for Ms Giuffre’s team arrived at the Royal Lodge in Windsor, Berkshire, on Thursday, August 26 at 09:30 BST.

The man was approached by security personnel, given a business card, and asked to wait.

According to the papers, he then spoke with police, including the head of security, who were unable to locate Prince Andrew’s private secretary “or anyone senior.”

The security team “had been told not to accept service of any court process,” the agent was told.

According to the papers, he was then given the name and phone number of a solicitor and called him at 10:40, but did not receive a response.

On Friday, August 27, the same process server returned to Windsor’s Royal Lodge and spoke with the “head of security.”

He was told that he could leave the papers with police at the main gates, and that they would be forwarded to the legal team.

“The deponent did enquire whether it was possible to meet personally with the defendant,” the papers state, “but the deponent was told that this was not possible.”

According to Ms Giuffre’s legal team, the service was successfully completed by leaving the papers with the officer.

When asked if the prince had received the papers and if he accepted they had been served, a spokeswoman for the prince responded, “No comment.”

One reason the duke’s team believes papers have not been served is that they believe British legal procedures require a valid request for assistance from UK court officials to come from a judicial or diplomatic officer in the US – not from Ms Giuffre’s lawyers.

It is also understood that there are concerns about the methods used to deliver the papers, particularly attempts to serve them personally on the prince at his home and to email them to barristers who may not be authorised to conduct litigation.

“Clearly, the papers have not been served personally on Prince Andrew,” said BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell.

“Equally clearly, Prince Andrew has not made himself available to receive these papers, so everything will now have to be decided by a judge in New York on Monday – whether they’ve been served, whether the court case can continue.”

Ms Giuffre, an accuser of Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted sex offender who died in prison in 2019, claims she was brought to the UK at the age of 17 to have sex with Prince Andrew.

She filed a lawsuit against him in New York last month. It’s a civil case, not a criminal one, so Ms Giuffre wants the court to decide whether her allegations are true and whether the duke should pay her damages.

The prince allegedly sexually abused Ms Giuffre at the London home of Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell, as well as at Epstein’s homes in Manhattan and the US Virgin Islands, according to the case.

It is claimed that the prince engaged in sexual acts without her consent while knowing her age and that she was a “sex-trafficking victim.”

When asked about Ms Giuffre’s allegations in 2019, Prince Andrew told the BBC that they “never happened.”

“It did not occur. I can tell you unequivocally that it never happened. “I have absolutely no recollection of ever meeting this lady,” he told BBC Newsnight.

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