THE US has officially demanded Britain allow Prince Andrew to be quizzed over his links to Jeffrey Epstein. According to reports in the British press, the US Department of Justice has formally told the UK the Duke of York is now caught up in a criminal probe for the first time. Prince Andrew has so far refused to answer questions from New York prosecutors investigating Epstein’s historic sex trafficking network but strongly denies any wrongdoing.
Until now it was thought he was only likely to be the target of action by Epstein’s victims in the US civil courts. One - Virginia Roberts Giuffre - alleges she had sex with Andrew on three occasions between 2001 and 2002, twice while underage. Prince Andrew, who is 60, denies this.
But, according to reports in the UK, the US Department of Justice has upped the stakes, by-passing Buckingham Palace and filing a “mutual legal assistance” (MLA) request to the Home Office. MLA requests are only used in criminal cases under a legal treaty with the UK.
It means Prince Andrew could now be forced to appear in a UK court as a witness within months. The move also piles pressure on the Duke to give evidence - and on the UK government to assist. No decision on the request has yet been made by British officials.
A source told The Sun newspaper: “It’s a diplomatic nightmare. The DoJ does not make a request of this nature lightly, especially one involving a senior member of the British royal family. It puts the UK government in a very difficult position - and the Duke of York even even more so.”