Newly unsealed court documents claim that Prince Andrew lobbied the US government for Jeffrey Epstein to secure a “favourable” plea deal in his 2008 underage prostitution case.
Epstein received a widely-criticized light sentence in the 2008 case that saw him jailed for just 18 months in 2008 after pleading guilty to charges of soliciting a minor. He only served 13 months.
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Prince Andrew has always vehemently denied the allegations against him.
Friend of his also claims: “this allegation is a straightforward untruth. No ifs, no buts”
The Indepdent reports: More light has been shed on Prince Andrew’s relationship with the convicted sex offender, from whom he has distanced himself, through the documents which were published after the court rejected an appeal by Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell to keep them secret.
The documents, released on Thursday, were from a now-settled 2015 defamation lawsuit filed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, one of Epstein’s alleged victims who named Andrew as one of the notable men she claims she was pressured into having sex with as a 17-year-old.
Ms Giuffre claimed in the suit and other litigation that she was recruited by Maxwell in 2000 to be a sexual slave to Epstein and was also pressured into having sex with US politicians, wealthy entrepreneurs, a famous scientist and a fashion designer.
The Duke, all the accused men and Maxwell have denied the allegations. But a photo that emerged of Andrew with his arm around a young Ms Giuffre in a mansion in London put the royal close to the centre of the scandal.
Two of Epstein’s victims, known only as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, alleged the convicted paedophile depended on his high-profile friends, including Andrew, to help him secure a reduced sentence from the US attorney in south Florida.
They appealed for the release of the documents in the case as they said it would prove Andrew’s involvement in Epstein’s case.
“[They are] seeking documents regarding Epstein’s lobbying efforts to persuade the government to give him a favourable plea arrangement, including efforts on his behalf by Andrew and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz,” claimed the victims.
“They have alleged these materials are needed to prove their allegations that, after Epstein signed the non-prosecution agreement, his performance was delayed while he used his significant social and political connections to lobby the justice department to obtain a more favourable plea deal.”
In 2008, Epstein pleaded guilty to soliciting a minor for prostitution as part of a secret “sweetheart deal” offered by Florida prosecutors. He was only sentenced to 13 months in jail, though much of it was spent outside of a prison and he was allowed to travel to his office almost daily.
As a result of the scandal, Andrew sought to distance himself from Epstein. But after the latter was released from prison in 2010, the Duke was pictured spending time with his former friend, which he said was a “mistake and an error”.
Ms Giuffre was asked by her lawyers as part of her deposition in 2016 if Andrew would have “relevant information” that would be useful to investigators.
She said: “Yes, he would know a lot of the truth. I don’t know how much he’d be able to help you with, but seeing as he’s in a lot of trouble himself these days I think he might, so I think he might be valuable.”
The newly released documents also reveal email correspondence between Maxwell and Epstein, who died in August last year while in prison for other charges.