Prince Andrew’s attacks on Virginia Giuffre’s character in an attempt to have her sexual assault claim against her be dismissed may backfire and risk further damaging her reputation, British lawyers have said.
Having initially tried to prevent the delivery of the lawsuit, which alleges he sexually abused Giuffre when she was 17, the prince’s lawyers went on the offensive over the weekend in an attempt to have their “unfounded” claim dismissed.
Her documents accuse Giuffre of seeking a “payday” at Andrew’s expense and contain references from friends and in newspaper articles that she is a “money-hungry sex kitten” and recruits girls for convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein. , who died in custody in 2019. pending trial.
At the same time, they argue that a 2009 settlement agreement between Giuffre and Andrew’s former friend Epstein absolved the prince of responsibility, a notion rejected by Giuffre’s lawyer.
Mark Stephens, Howard Kennedy’s partner and UK media law expert, said it would take a courageous judge to dismiss the case and suggested that Prince Andrew had potentially opened himself up to further embarrassment.
“He’s obviously fed up with the criticism he’s received, so he’s instructed the lawyers to get involved,” Stephens said. “The problem, of course, is that he has now embarked on a route to a case. He says that it should be crossed out because she is not trustworthy, but also that he is covered by Epstein’s plea deal in any case, which seemed to be somewhat contradictory.
“The problem you have is that he clearly, as a human being, wants to explain himself, he wants to make it clear that he is not responsible, but his only way of doing it is at the court hearing. And if you do that, you have to talk about what you did with her, how did the photograph come out? [with Giuffre] come to be taken, etc. [allies of Andrew have claimed the photo was faked and he says he has “no recollection” of meeting her] and will undoubtedly give graphic and detailed evidence of what it says its links were ”.
Andrew, 61, has “absolutely and categorically” denied having sex with Giuffre, but the accusations have already done great damage to his reputation. The queen’s second son was retired from royal duties in 2019 following a disastrous interview with Emily Maitlis for the BBC’s Newsnight in which he was perceived as unfriendly towards Epstein’s victims.
His lawyers’ latest strategy runs the risk of exacerbating that perception, according to a senior partner at a major London law firm, who described the allegations in the documents as a “smokescreen.”
The lawyer, who did not want to be identified, said: “This seems to put up a smokescreen to blur it [Giuffre’s] reputation, but it has no legal relevance. Whether or not she was complicit in helping Epstein with his child abuse is neither here nor there when the allegations against Prince Andrew are considered, which are that he raped and sexually abused her. Regardless of how it tarnishes his character, there is absolutely no difference on that subject. “
He said an English judge would ignore him, and while American juries were more likely to be swayed by him, there was no guarantee.
“A jury might think, ‘This is an American citizen, and who is this prince trying to blacken the character of one of our own?’ So it’s a high-stakes strategy, even with a jury, I would have thought,” said. .
In his lawsuit, Giuffre alleged that the prince “blocked”, rejecting a request to explore an alternative dispute resolution. Attempts to challenge the service and jurisdiction further increased uncertainty about his level of commitment to the case, but Richard Spafford, a partner at Reed Smith, said it was “pretty standard” to try to stop the lawsuit in its tracks and only when those tactics failed. address the real merits of the case.
“I can only assume that it has been decided within your advisory team that, despite the fact that your application will attract publicity, it is nonetheless the appropriate step to take,” said Spafford. “On the basis of that, there must be an opinion that these arguments raise the possibility that the judge will dismiss the case or, alternatively, that the plaintiff is more likely to conclude that it is appropriate to resolve it.”
Fladgate partner Thomas Garner said the attacks on Giuffre showed the gloves were removed, even if that could cause “irreparable” damage to the prince’s reputation. “If there is any doubt about how you would handle the claim, this app makes it clear that if [the judge] does not rule out the claim, so Prince Andrew intends to go on the attack, ”he said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism