US court to hold pre-trial hearing for sex assault claim against Prince Andrew

A US court will hold a pre-trial conference today in the civil suit filed by a woman who claims Prince Andrew sexually assaulted her.

The hearing, which will take place in New York City, will look at whether Virginia Giuffre’s legal team has done enough to deliver papers regarding the civil lawsuit to the Duke of York.

Ms Giuffre’s lawyers have said the documents were handed to a Metropolitan Police officer on duty at the main gates of Andrew’s home in Windsor Great Park on 27 August.

But Blackfords, a law firm that represents the prince “in certain UK matters”, has questioned whether the papers were properly served.

They have also indicated a possible challenge to the court’s jurisdiction in the case, according to a 6 September letter referenced in court documents filed by Ms Giuffre’s lawyers.

Judge Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York will decide whether the efforts to present the prince with the papers were enough or whether more is required.

Ms Giuffre claims she was trafficked by Andrew’s former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with the prince, when she was 17 and a minor under US law.

More on Prince Andrew

  • The prince previously said the sexual encounters 'didn't happen' and suggested a photo showing him with Ms Giuffre may have been doctored. Pic: Shutterstock

    Prince Andrew: Duke of York served with legal papers for sexual assault lawsuit, according to US court document

  • A spokeswoman for the duke has confirmed there is a dispute

    Lawyer for Jeffrey Epstein victims says people should feel ’emboldened’ by police chief’s Prince Andrew comments

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    Prince Andrew ‘not above the law’, says Met police chief – as her team having ‘another look at the material’

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Andrew, the Queen’s second son, denies the claims.

Prince Andrew: What are the allegations in Virginia Giuffre's lawsuit?

Prince Andrew: What are the allegations in Virginia Giuffre’s lawsuit?

If he tries to ignore the lawsuit, he could be found in default and ordered to pay damages, but if the case goes through the courts it could mean years of embarrassing headlines for the Royal Family.

Ms Giuffre’s attorney, David Boies, said in court documents that it was impossible for Andrew to be unaware of the suit.

He wrote: “Attorneys at Blackfords, who he has apparently instructed to evade and contest service, have confirmed that Prince Andrew himself already has notice of this lawsuit and is evaluating his chances of success.

“And even if Blackfords had not confirmed as much, any other conclusion would be implausible – reputable media outlets around the world reported on the filing of plaintiff’s complaint, and hundreds, if not thousands, of articles about this lawsuit have been published.”

Mr Boies said there will not be a substantive decision today but the hearing will make proceedings clearer.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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