10 January 2024



Suzanne McKie KC quoted in iNews in response to calls for Prince Andrew to address Epstein files

Suzanne McKie KC quoted in iNews in response to calls for Prince Andrew to address Epstein files.

Legal experts believe the Duke of York is unlikely to face formal questioning over allegations contained in newly released court documents, unless he travels to the US.

But Suzanne McKie, a KC who specialises in sexual assault claims and last year settled a multimillion dollar lawsuit involving the CEO of NBC Universal Jeff Shell, said the duke should clarify his position after being named repeatedly in a bundle of court documents unsealed in New York overnight.

The files include evidence from a witness in 2014 claiming she was told to have sexual intercourse with the Duke of York in three different locations including an orgy with underage girls on Epstein’s private island.

The alleged victim is described only as “Jane Doe 3” in some of the released papers.

In the past decade, Virginia Giuffre has repeatedly claimed she had sex with Prince Andrew three times when she was 17 and 18 in around 2001, including on Epstein’s private island in the Virgin Islands.

In the original 2014 court filing, she was referred to as “Jane Doe 3”, before she waived her anonymity to speak to the media the following year.

Much of the content of the court documents, which runs to almost 1,000 pages, concerns details about Epstein’s offending that have been heard before.

Ms McKie said she believes lawyers for the duke would “probably be well advised to put out a statement” making clear allegations have not been made against him by another woman, separately to Ms Giuffre.

Epstein, an American financier, took his own life in 2019 while in prison facing charges of trafficking underage girls for sex.

Prince Andrew, 63, has strongly denied all allegations he participated in Epstein’s offending and Buckingham Palace has previously issued denials on his behalf.

The palace said Andrew “deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent.”

But in 2022, he agreed to an out-of-court settlement believed to be in the region of £10m with Ms Giuffre as a result of a civil lawsuit. He later stepped back from frontline royal duties and was stripped of his royal patronages and military titles.

A statement released by the Duke at the time contained no admission of liability or apology.

Ms McKie said she was “quite surprised” that the settlement figure became public knowledge.

“Having done settlements in relation to US claims before, the other side may struggle to extract an NDA [Non-Disclosure Agreement] from the alleged victim, but generally speaking you get a clause which says the amount must stay private,” she added.

“I think the fact that the amount did not stay private in Prince Andrew’s case, undermines his reputation further.”

However, John Burke, a barrister at Legis Chambers in London who previously served an assistant district attorney in Massachusetts, said the Duke may be best placed to stay quiet, despite his name resurfacing in relation to Epstein.

Mr Burke told i: “Having been named, it doesn’t mean he’s committed a crime. Legally, I don’t think he’s in a position where he needs to say anything.”

In November 2019, Prince Andrew gave a now-infamous interview to the BBC’s Newsnight programme in which he discussed his friendship with Epstein for the first time.

Mr Burke said he thought that was a misstep and forced the Duke into the position of having to settle his claim with Ms Giuffre.

“I don’t think public relations is one of his gifts, if I were advising him I would say he doesn’t need to make any statements at this time,” Mr Burke added.

“Because all it does really is bring up all of his old public statements and that is completely unhelpful, that put him the box where he had to settle, had he never given that interview he would not have been in a position where he needed to settle.

Previous reports have claimed that US law enforcement agencies would like to question Prince Andrew on American soil in relation to the allegations.

The Metropolitan Police Service has previously said it will take no further action after reviewing material related to Ms Giuffre’s claims.

Mr Burke said he would be “very surprised” if there are any further civil or criminal developments related to Prince Andrew.

Ms McKie added that it is “extremely rare” rare for UK police to investigate any alleged crimes outside their jurisdiction.

Leader of the campaign group Republic Graham Smith says he has submitted a fresh complaint to the Met Police to investigate Prince Andrew as a result of the US documents.

“To date there appears to have been no serious criminal investigation, no interview of the accused or other witnesses and no clear justification for taking no action,” Mr Smith said.

“I am calling on the Met police to reopen this case, I am calling on MPs to debate this affair in parliament, and I am calling on [King] Charles to make a public statement – in front of the press and taking questions – to respond to these allegations and what they say about the monarchy.”

Prince Andrew was named in the court documents as part of Ms Giuffre’s civil claim against the socialite Ghislaine Maxwell who was jailed for 20 years for child sex trafficking in 2022.

During her interview, known in the US as a deposition, Maxwell claimed she could only recall Prince Andrew on Epstein’s island once.

Maxwell indicated her desire to appeal shortly after her conviction with her lawyers, claiming victims had “faded, distorted and motivated memories”.

Her appeal is currently scheduled to be heard in November next year.

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