Civil case against Andrew may not be heard for years, says leading lawyer

The Duke of York faces the prospect of the civil case brought by his accuser Virginia Giuffre taking years to reach its conclusion, a legal expert has suggested.

Ms Giuffre is suing the Queen’s son for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager, and the first pre-trial hearing in the civil proceedings will be held in the US later on Monday.

She claims she was trafficked by Andrew’s former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with the duke, when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.

Andrew has vehemently denied all the allegations.

Order of the Garter 2015
The Duke of York, pictured with the Wales of Wales at the Order of the Garter Service at Windsor Castle, has stepped back from public duties (Peter Nicholls/PA)

It is thought the main issue to be resolved at the initial hearing will be whether the court is satisfied Andrew has been served with notice of the proceedings.

Andrew’s accuser may have to wait until 2024 before she has her day in court and is able to repeat her allegations before a judge.

She is seeking unspecified damages but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.

David Greene, a senior partner with law firm Edwin Coe, said about the final trial: “I’d been surprised if it took place next year and I’d been surprised if it took place the year after, 2023.

“It’s a highly complex issue and I think it will take quite some time to come in front of the court.”

It is thought the duke and his legal team will not engage in the civil proceedings, but they can continue without their input with the court making its judgment in due course.

Jeffrey Epstein death
Broadcaster Emily Maitlis interviews Andrew during his Newsnight appearance (Mark Harrison/BBC)

Andrew does not face the prospect of an extradition hearing as this only applies to criminal charges and not civil cases.

David Boies, who represents Ms Giuffre, has accused the royal’s legal team have “stonewalled” appeals for information.

In documents filed to the US district court for the southern district of New York on Friday, Ms Giuffre’s lawyers stated there was a first attempt to serve the papers on the duke on August 26, when an agent went to Windsor Great Park.

They state that a Metropolitan Police officer, who was the head of security, told the agent officers were not able to accept service of any court process, or let anyone trying to serve legal papers on to the property.

The agent returned the next day and was told the court process could be left with the police officer at the main gate “and that this matter would then be forwarded on to the legal team”.

Andrew has stepped back from public duties amid the fallout from his relationship with Epstein.

It came after a 2019 Newsnight interview which saw him attempt to draw a line under his relationship with Epstein, who died in prison two years ago, but it ended up being dubbed a “car crash”.

During the programme he denied claims that he slept with Ms Giuffre on three separate occasions, saying: “I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened.

“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”

According to The Daily Mail, he was last seen arriving at the Queen’s Scottish retreat of Balmoral Castle in August and was thought to have been accompanied by his ex-wife Sarah, Duchess of York.

Lawyers for Ms Giuffre filed the civil suit against the duke citing allegations of battery by sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.