Lead Epstein investigator says Prince Andrew 'repeatedly declined' interview requests

8 June 2020, 16:01

Prince Andrew has hit back at claims he is not cooperating into the Epstein investigation
Prince Andrew has hit back at claims he is not cooperating into the Epstein investigation. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The attorney leading the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein has said that Prince Andrew "repeatedly declined" requests for interview, despite the Royal's claims that he offered himself as a witness "at least three times".

It was revealed today that prosecutors had made a formal request for Prince Andrew to answer questions about the investigation.

But in a statement released by his legal team, Andrew claimed that his offers of cooperation have been ignored and accused the Department of Justice of "perhaps seeking publicity".

However, US attorney Geoffrey Berman, who is leading the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein, hit back at the Royal, saying that he has "repeatedly declined" to be interviewed.

He said in a statement: "Today, Prince Andrew yet again sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to cooperate with an ongoing federal criminal investigation into sex trafficking and related offences committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his associates, even though the prince has not given an interview to federal authorities, has repeatedly declined our request to schedule such an interview, and nearly four months ago informed us unequivocally - through the very same counsel who issued today's release - that he would not come in for such an interview."

The full statement from Prince Andrew's legal team said: "The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ.

"Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the duke has offered zero co-operation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.

"Far from our client acting above the law, as has been implied by press briefings in the US, he is being treated by a lower standard than might reasonably be expected for any other citizen.

Prince Andrew has been absent from public life following a disastrous Newsnight appearance
Prince Andrew has been absent from public life following a disastrous Newsnight appearance. Picture: PA

"Further, those same breaches of confidentiality by the DOJ have given the global media - and, therefore, the worldwide audience - an entirely misleading account of our discussions with them.

"Any pursuit of an application for mutual legal assistance would be disappointing, since the Duke of York is not a target of the DOJ investigation and has recently repeated his willingness to provide a witness statement.

"It is hoped that this third offer has not been the cause of the most recent leak about the Duke of York.

"We do not intend to make any further public statement at this time as we wish to respect the rules of confidentiality under both English law and the US guidelines."

The news came as Andrew was reported back in March to have stopped cooperating with the inquiry into his longtime friend Epstein, who took his own life in a prison cell in August last year.

Epstein had been in jail awaiting trial for sex trafficking offences at the time.