Virginia Giuffre seeks testimony from Prince Andrew's former assistant

14 January 2022, 23:12

Virginia Giuffre's lawyers are seeking testimony from two people - including the Duke of York's former equerry.
Virginia Giuffre's lawyers are seeking testimony from two people - including the Duke of York's former equerry. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Prince Andrew's longtime accuser Virginia Giuffre is seeking testimony from two people - including the Duke of York's former assistant - according to court papers in her sexual abuse lawsuit.

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In papers submitted to a New York court, Ms Giuffre's lawyers have requested assistance from UK courts in seeking testimony from Robert Olney, the duke's former assistant, or equerry.

Ms Giuffre, now 38, alleges she was forced into sex at 17 with Andrew by two of his then associates: Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.

Andrew strongly denies the allegations against him.

Giuffre’s attorneys said on Friday that they had “reason to believe” that Robert Olney, the Duke of York’s past assistant, has “relevant information about Prince Andrew’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein”.

Giuffre’s lawyers also wrote in court filings that Olney’s name “appears in publicly available copies of Epstein’s phone book”.

Testimony is also being sought from Shukri Walker, which the documents state "claims to have seen Prince Andrew at Tramp Nightclub in London with a young girl around the time that Plaintiff contends Prince Andrew abused her in London after visiting Tramp Nightclub".

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The request for testimony comes in the wake of Manhattan federal court judge Lewis Kaplan’s refusal to dismiss Giuffre’s lawsuit.

Andrew, who vehemently denies all allegations against him, had hoped to have Ms Giuffre's lawsuit thrown out in light of a 2009 agreement between Ms Giuffre and Epstein, who took his own life in prison.

That $500,000 settlement said Ms Giuffre had agreed to "release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge" Epstein and "any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant".

Lawyers for Andrew had tried to get a judge to dismiss the case - but instead he has allowed it to proceed, meaning the duke faces a civil trial. Those proceedings are different to a criminal trial.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment, saying: "We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter."

Judge Lewis Kaplan said the agreement between Epstein and Ms Giuffre "cannot be said" to benefit the royal.

Read more: Prince Andrew to face civil sex case after US judge rules trial can go ahead

He said in a ruling: "The 2009 Agreement cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, the parties intended the instrument 'directly,' 'primarily,' or 'substantially,' to benefit Prince Andrew.

"The existence of the requisite intent to benefit him, or others comparable to him, is an issue of fact that could not properly be decided on this motion even if defendant fell within the releasing language, which itself is ambiguous.

"Thus, independent of whether the release language applies to Prince Andrew, the agreement, at a minimum, is 'reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation' on the equally important question of whether this defendant may invoke it."

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On Thursday evening, not long after the court verdict in New York opened up a trial for Ms Giuffre, Buckingham Palace announced the Duke of York's military affiliations and royal patronages have been returned to the Queen.

Andrew will also no longer be called His Royal Highness.

It was reported today that Prince Charles and Prince William teamed up to advise the Queen that Andrew's role in the royal family had become untenable.

Andrew could yet push for an out-of-court settlement with Ms Giuffre but reports say she does not want to go down that route, and instead wishes to send a message showing powerful people facing justice.

It follows the fallout from Ghislaine Maxwell's trial, which saw two jurors claim they were sexually abused after the case.

The revelations threw into question the jury selection process for the case, which saw her convicted of sex trafficking.

Maxwell and Andrew were friends and she introduced the royal to Epstein.

Her lawyers are thought to be readying to push for a mistrial.