The Duke of York will not be represented at a pre-trial hearing in his sexual assault civil case tomorrow as his legal team maintains its policy of “stonewalling” the claims.
Prince Andrew has appointed a US-based lawyer, but no one from his legal team is expected to participate in the telephone conference.
Lawyers acting for the Duke’s accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, lodged papers with the New York court on Friday claiming that the Duke had been formally served in “multiple methods” that comply with both English law and the Hague Convention.
A copy of both the summons and the complaint were emailed to his Royal household office email address and to his lawyers by both email and FedEx.
It was also delivered to his Windsor home by a professional process server, by a City Sprint same-day courier and sent by first-class post.
Gary Bloxsome, the Duke’s lawyer, claimed correct procedure was not followed and that the papers should be served via a British court official, acting as an intermediary.
He said that if Manhattan federal court judge Lewis Kaplan, who is overseeing the case, makes such a request, it was “likely” the Duke would “agree to a convenient method of alternative service,” according to a letter obtained by ABC News.
However, in an update sent to Judge Kaplan ahead of a pre-trial hearing tomorrow, David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, dismissed Mr Bloxsome’s concerns and insisted that the lawsuit was filed in accordance with the Hague Convention. He also hit back at Mr Bloxsome’s failure to acknowledge receipt of the summons, despite acknowledging both the complaint and tomorrow’s hearing, and claimed his assertions were “inconsistent with the Hague Convention itself”.
Mr Bloxsome has also suggested that a confidential settlement Ms Giuffre made with Jeffrey Epstein in 2009 could make her claim against the Duke invalid. But Mr Boies described the notion as “erroneous” and said the Duke was not, and could not have been, a party to that case. He said he would deal with the claim if and when it was formally made in the Duke’s defence.
“Prince Andrew’s attorneys at Blackfords, who he has apparently instructed to evade and contest service, have confirmed that Prince Andrew himself already has notice of this lawsuit and is evaluating his chances of success,” he wrote. “And even if Blackfords had not confirmed as much, any other conclusion would be implausible – hundreds, if not thousands, of articles about this lawsuit have been published.”
Judge Kaplan has made clear that during the telephone conference, he expects Ms Giuffre’s legal team to describe their efforts to serve Prince Andrew with the suit.
Eric Baum, of New York law firm Eisenberg & Baum, who has represented victims in civil sexual harassment cases, warned that the Duke would “face consequences” if he failed to participate in the court process.
He said: “Although he was able to avoid submitting to US federal jurisdiction by declining to participate in any investigative questioning, he will not be able to do so again without consequences in civil court.
“The choice Prince Andrew faces after he is properly served with the lawsuit will be to either answer the allegations, or risk having a default judgment entered against him.
“Although he was able to avoid FBI questioning in 2019, he will now have to answer the allegations or have a court finding against him for child sex abuse. Given the stigma, it will be interesting to see how Prince Andrew will respond. The civil lawsuit is giving Ms. Giuffre a means of seeking justice.”
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