London, Aug 2 | The UK’s Prince Andrew lobbied the US government for a favourable plea deal for late American financier and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in relation to the latter’s 2008 underage prostitution cases, unsealed court documents have claimed.
The documents are from a now-settled 2015 defamation lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, who has has claimed that she was trafficked when she was 17 and was forced into sexual encounters with the Prince in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein, the Metro newspaper reported on Saturday.
The Prince has repeatedly denied the allegations.
In the documents, unnamed Epstein victims have claimed that he relied on the Duke of York and other powerful friends to get a reduction in his sentence.
Epstein served only 18 months in prison after striking a deal with federal authorities in 2008 admitting soliciting a minor for prostitution.
US district judge Loretta A. Preska had ordered the papers released but two depositions given by Epstein’s former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, who is currently in custody, in the civil lawsuit in 2016 were not produced after her lawyers appealed against the ruling.
When asked if Prince Andrew lobbied the US government, an unnamed friend told the Metro newspaper: “This allegation is a straightforward untruth. No ifs, no buts.”
On broader claims made in papers, the friend asked: “The US Federal Appeals court said 2019, these allegations should be treated with ‘extreme caution’. ‘Allegations are not the same as facts, which is the essential premise on which justice works. Let’s see if these allegations stand-up, because precious few about the Duke do – where’s the proof?'”
Andrew stepped down from public royal life following a TV interview in which he failed to show remorse over his friendship with Epstein, and little empathy with the sex offender’s alleged victims.
He has also been urged to come forward and be interviewed about his friendship with the disgraced financier, who took killed himself last August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.