Editor’s Note: This story has been updated to reflect the statement made by Prince Andrew’s lawyers on June 8.
According to multiple reports, U.S. authorities submitted a mutual legal assistance request (MLAT) to the U.K. Home Office — an agreement between the U.S. and the U.K. to co-operate in one another’s criminal investigations.
Prosecutors believe Prince Andrew could have key information about Epstein, who was in jail on dozens of sex-trafficking charges when he was found dead in his cell in August 2019.
According to the BBC, if Prince Andrew does not voluntarily respond or refuses to co-operate, he can be called to a U.K. court for questioning.
In January, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said prosecutors and the FBI had contacted Prince Andrew’s lawyers and asked to interview him.
“To date, Prince Andrew has provided zero co-operation,” Berman said.View link »
In a statement issued by his lawyers on June 8, Prince Andrew says he has “on at least three occasions this year” offered his assistance as a witness to the Department of Justice.
“Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero cooperation,” reads the statement obtained by Newsweek.
“In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.”
Prince Andrew’s lawyers also argue that he has been subject to a “lower standard” than might be reasonably be expected for any other citizen.
Prince Andrew's lawyers go to war with the US Department of Justice and New York prosecutor. Claim he has faced a "lower standard" of law than a normal citizen. Comes after a formal request for his Epstein testimony. 1/2 pic.twitter.com/y9cVleAU5y
— Jack Royston (@Jack_Royston) June 8, 2020
On July 2, the FBI arrested Epstein’s former companion Ghislaine Maxwell in New Hampshire on charges she helped recruit girls for Epstein.
While speaking about Maxwell’s arrest, acting US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss once again called upon Prince Andrew, saying, “We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us. We would like to have the benefit of his statement. Our doors remain open as we’ve previously said.”
A source close to Prince Andrew later told ITV, “The Duke’s team remains bewildered given that we have twice communicated with the Department of Justice in the last month and to date, we have had no response.”
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”
A woman named Virginia Roberts Giuffre claims Epstein forced her to have sex with Prince Andrew in 2001 when she was 17.
In an interview with the BBC in November, Giuffre says she was introduced to Prince Andrew in 2001 through Epstein and Maxwell.
She alleges she danced with the royal at a nightclub in London and was then was forced to have sex with him at Maxwell’s house.View link »
“He is the most hideous dancer I’ve ever seen in my life. His sweat was like it was raining, basically everywhere,” Giuffre said in the interview.
She also says she had sexual encounters with Prince Andrew in New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In his own interview with the BBC, the 59-year-old royal denied ever having sex with Giuffre and said he had “no recollection” of ever meeting her.
Prince Andrew claimed an alleged encounter with Giuffre in London couldn’t have occurred on the date reported because he had taken his daughter, Princess Beatrice, to a party at a Pizza Express restaurant in the London suburb of Woking that day.
Andrew also disputed the details of Giuffre’s account, including her statement that he sweated heavily when they danced at the London nightclub.
He said that was factually impossible because he had a medical condition at the time that meant he didn’t sweat. The prince said the condition stemmed from an “overdose of adrenaline” during his time as a helicopter pilot during the 1982 Falklands War.
Berman has vowed to aggressively investigate and bring charges against anyone who may have helped Epstein.
“Jeffrey Epstein couldn’t have done what he did without the assistance of others, and I can assure you that the investigation is moving forward,” he said.
Prince Andrew has said publicly suggested he would willingly co-operate with an investigation.
— With files from Global News’ Laura Hensley and the Associated Press