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Judge rules in favour of Duke of York over his bid to block sex case

·1 min read
Manhattan Judge Loretta Preska said in a written order that the Duke of York can seek the information (REUTERS)
Manhattan Judge Loretta Preska said in a written order that the Duke of York can seek the information (REUTERS)

Prince Andrew can request the unsealing of a 2009 settlement agreement that his lawyer claims protects him from a lawsuit alleging he sexually assaulted a teenager two decades ago, a US judge has said.

Manhattan Judge Loretta Preska said in a written order that the Duke of York can seek the information to support arguments that the agreement between Virginia Giuffre and financier Jeffrey Epstein disallows her action against the prince.

Epstein, 66, was found dead in his cell in a Manhattan prison in August 2019 while he awaited a sex trafficking trial. The death was ruled to be a suicide. Judge Preska has presided over requests to unseal large portions of court filings related to a lawsuit Ms Giuffre brought against Epstein’s friend Ghislaine Maxwell in 2015.

The defamation case, which alleged Maxwell subjected Ms Giuffre to “public ridicule, contempt and disgrace” by calling her a liar, was settled and the case dismissed in May 2017.

“The court notes that parties who have standing and perhaps Prince Andrew, who has not been heard from, may seek to lift the protective order for valid reasons,” Judge Preska said.

Attorney Andrew Brettler, representing the prince, told a judge on Monday that he believes the settlement agreement “absolves our client from any and all liability” in the case brought against him by Ms Giuffre.

Mr Brettler was speaking at the first court hearing to result from the lawsuit, in which Ms Giuffre alleged that Andrew had abused her on several occasions in 2001, when she was under 18. Andrew has categorically denied the abuse happened.

On Thursday lawyers for Ms Giuffre also asked Manhattan Judge Lewis Kaplan to rule that the prince had been properly notified of Giuffre’s lawsuit.

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