Prince Andrew to face sex case in the US as High Court agrees to serve papers

15 September 2021, 14:09 | Updated: 17 September 2021, 18:02

Prince Andrew has denied all sexual assault allegations made against him by Virginia Giuffre
Prince Andrew has denied all sexual assault allegations made against him by Virginia Giuffre. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Prince Andrew is set to be officially served with sex case papers after the UK High Court accepted a request from Virginia Giuffre's legal team.

The High Court says it will now take steps to notify Prince Andrew about civil action being brought against him in New York after accepting a request by Ms Giuffre's lawyers to formally contact the Duke of York about the proceedings.

He's always strongly denied sexually assaulting her when she was 17.

Read more: Prince Andrew's lawyer: Virginia Giuffre’s sexual assault claim is 'baseless'

The High Court previously rejected the request to contact the Duke about the civil proceedings launched in America, citing a technicality.

The High Court said in a statement: "The High Court has rejected the request for service of proceedings against Prince Andrew made under the Hague Service Convention, on grounds that the request was not made in accordance with the requirements of the convention.

"There is no involvement by the High Court at present in respect of the attempts at service outside the Hague Convention."

The first pre-trial hearing was held on Monday in New York when the Duke's attorney Andrew B Brettler said their legal team had "significant concerns" about the lawsuit, and that Ms Giuffre had previously entered into a "settlement agreement" that would nullify her case.

Despite Andrew being represented in court, his team state he has not been officially notified about the civil case - known as service of proceedings.

Under the Hague Service Convention, a treaty that governs requests between countries for evidence in civil or commercial matters, Ms Giuffre's legal team can ask the High Court in London to formally notify Andrew about her civil action.

After earlier highlighting an issue with the application, the High Court said later: "The lawyers acting for Ms Giuffre have now provided further information to the High Court, and the High Court has accepted the request for service under the Hague Service Convention.

"The legal process has not yet been served but the High Court will now take steps to serve under the convention, unless service is arranged by agreement between the parties."

The question about whether Andrew had been properly notified was a major topic at the pre-trial hearing at the US district court for the southern district of New York.

Mr Brettler said during the hearing, held via telephone conference, the duke's team contested "the validity of service to date", adding he has not been properly served under either UK or international law.

Read more: Prince Andrew accusations: 'No one is above the law', Met chief tells LBC

David Boies, representing Ms Giuffre, said that the complaint had been "delivered to the last known address of the defendant", adding that the documents had also been sent "by Royal Mail".

But it appears Mr Boies and his colleagues are trying another course by making the request to the High Court.

Ms Giuffre is suing the Queen's son for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. She is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.

She claims she was trafficked by Andrew's former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with the duke, when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.

The Duke has vehemently denied all the allegations.