For an innocent man, Prince Andrew has gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid challenging Virginia Roberts Giuffre in court.
He has claimed a photograph of him with convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell and Giuffre is faked.
He has said he can’t perspire to refute a claim about a sweaty encounter.
The Prince has let it be known his accuser searched for “slutty girls” for Jeffrey Epstein, and is, therefore, not to be trusted.
He has tried to have her civil case dismissed on the grounds that she is an Australian resident.
Another claim for dismissal is based on a 2009 agreement between Giuffre and convicted paedophile, Epstein. As I write, that final ploy has not been ruled on.
A New York judge is still deliberating on whether a 12-year-old deal between a paedophile and his victim is enough to excuse all other parties from accountability. Natural justice insists it should be invalid.
A deal that purports to remove legal rights of an individual against countless, unnamed others for all time doesn’t seem legally sound in the first place.
Prince Andrew accuser Virginia Giuffre's 2009 settlement with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein is made public https://t.co/LbV7nKlmlE
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) January 3, 2022
Such a mechanism would deny justice to any abuse victim, if bullied into accepting. It would seem to compound the crime of abuse.
That Prince Andrew relies on this is pathetic. When you are relying on the fact that a known paedophile paid off a victim, it does not speak well of your innocence.
When that paedophile bothered to include “royals” in the category of those protected by the deal, it rather suggests there is more to the story than key actors are letting on.
Prince Andrew would be unwise to test the court of public opinion
Should the judge rule the agreement stands, this case will fall. That will not be the end.
Prince Andrew has offered up too much contradictory and evasive testimony. Another civil case under English law is inevitable.
There are important issues at stake here about how powerful men behave. The matter will not stop.
A fundraiser on behalf of justice for abused women would easily raise the sum for continued legal action. It would also demonstrate public unease with the prince.
It would be very foolish of the monarchy to allow public opinion to be tested in this way.
Whatever happens with the Giuffre vs Prince Andrew case today, the position is that a senior member of the royal family is seeking to use a legal loophole, a technicality, to avoid scrutiny over claims of sexual abuse. That is totally unacceptable.
— Stig Abell (@StigAbell) January 4, 2022
If the judge rules that the agreement does not cover the prince, then legal proceedings will continue. If so, it must be very clear that Prince Andrew should engage with the court and abide by its conclusion.
A failure as a symbol of Britain
Life in the royal family is odd. It has destroyed many born into the firm. That’s not Prince Andrew.
Feted as a bit of rake in the 1980s, a dashing symbol of boom time Britain, he has had a blessed life.
Enjoying all the perks of inherited wealth and privilege by association with the family trade, he has never shown any reticence about representing Britain. No wonder.
There never seemed to be a downside. Living off his mum, a wardrobe full of fancy costumes, a CV of jobs given to him without asking or interview.
It is then, as a representative of us all, that he is tested now. As a symbol of the monarchy and Britain, his conduct matters, whether as a figurehead in the military or as a representative of British values. And as such, he has already failed, abjectly.
The case against him is a civil one. It cannot end in a jail sentence. There will be no prince locked up in the tower.
Instead, if found guilty, he will be obliged to pay a financial settlement. It would be unconscionable for that sum to come out of the public purse.
The prince has private assets, such as a ski lodge in Switzerland. Any payment must be seen to come from his own wealth.
If found guilty, his title should be removed and his access to the sovereign grant (the old civil list) ended.
This should mean the titles of his ex-wife and children also being withdrawn, and their access to the sovereign grant ended.
All honorary titles and positions should also be removed.
Finished in public life, regardless of ruling on Epstein deal
In short, Prince Andrew’s life as a royal should be over. He has brought dishonour to Britain, the crown and the people.
And these things should happen, even if the judge rules the 2009 Epstein deal stands.
In no aspect of this has the prince behaved in a manner befitting his status. At every turn, he appears to have put his own interests before those of the institution and nation he represents.
His privilege has blinded him to the wider responsibilities of being a British royal.
He has shown no sympathy with the plight of those sexually trafficked or abused. No remorse for friendship with a convicted paedophile. No regret at inviting Jeffrey Epstein and convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell to royal events.
He has been childishly self-regarding throughout this story – talking of honour when he has used every privilege of money and power to denigrate a victim of abuse.
What’s at stake here is not just the civil case in a New York court, but the essence of British values projected at home and abroad.
By that measure, he should be gone from public life for good.