PRINCE Andrew attempted to weasel his way out of his bombshell sex assault lawsuit through at least four technicalities, a court heard yesterday.
The royal’s attack-dog attorney Andrew Brettler was unleashed in a hearing against the duke’s accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
But Mr Brettler was met with scepticism at almost every turn as he made his arguments, with Judge Lewis Kaplan telling him at one point: “That’s not a dog that’s going to hunt here.”
Mr Brettler argued that a newly-disclosed £371,000 secret agreement between Ms Giuffre and late financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2009 released the royal from any legal action.
And he said the settlement had resulted in a similar lawsuit from Andrew’s accuser being dismissed.
Judge Kaplan said last night that he would rule on the future of the lawsuit “pretty soon”.
Andrew’s team were boosted by the publication on Monday of the settlement between Ms Giuffre and Epstein, releasing “other potential defendants” from legal action.
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Mr Brettler argued that:
- PRINCE Andrew was covered by the “other potential defendants” clause in the settlement;
- GIUFFRE’S lawsuit against lawyer Alan Dershowitz was dismissed when the agreement was produced;
- HER claims were too “vague”, adding: “She doesn’t allege what this abuse was”. He called the way she filed them “unconstitutional”;
- FORMER New York governor Andrew Cuomo acted unconstitutionally when he extended the Child Victims Act deadline to August 2020. It allowed Ms Giuffre to file her lawsuit. Otherwise, her claims would have fallen outside New York’s statute of limitations.
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Mr Brettler claims Ms Giuffre lied to shoehorn her allegations to fit the requirements of the Act.
Ms Giuffre sued Andrew, 61, last year, alleging he sexually assaulted her three times while she was 17 in New York, London and the Caribbean.
He denies the claims.
The mum of three, 38, says she was trafficked to the duke by paedophile Epstein and his accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, 60 — who was convicted of aiding her ex-lover’s abuse ring last week.
The judge, speaking to Mr Brettler, said: “You know, for a certainty, that I’m obliged to accept as true, the well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint.”
He said, reading from allegations: “During this encounter, Epstein, Maxwell, and Prince Andrew forced plaintiff, a child, to have sexual intercourse with Prince Andrew against her will.”
The judge added: “I must assume the truth of this allegation.”
The Prince claimed he had “no recollection of ever meeting” Ms Giuffre, in a 2019 BBC Newsnight interview.
His legal team had appeared bullish before the 70-minute video-conference hearing in New York.
But Mr Brettler was repeatedly interrogated as he tried to persuade Judge Kaplan to throw out Ms Giuffre’s case during the “motion to dismiss” hearing.
'STRONG LEGAL GROUND'
Mr Brettler told the court: “ ‘Potential defendant’ is someone who can be named as a defendant in the lawsuit but was not.
“I think it’s unquestionable that Prince Andrew could have been sued in the 2009 Florida action. He was not.”
But Judge Kaplan appeared to disagree over the interpretation of “potential” and said: “It is a word that neither you or I can find any meaning at all.”
Andrew’s lawyer argued that his client should be covered by it because Ms Giuffre had mentioned “royalty” in her civil complaint against Epstein.
The judge indicated the settlement wording might mean that both Epstein and Ms Giuffre had to agree as to whether or not it could be used to release other potential defendants.
He said: “If someone got sued and Jeffrey Epstein said this person was within the release, and it was OK with Ms Giuffre . . . Epstein could enforce it — but not otherwise.”
Mr Brettler, who got more animated as the hearing progressed, also argued that the 2009 agreement had shielded lawyer Alan Dershowitz from similar allegations brought by Ms Giuffre.
But again, the judge knocked Andrew’s attorney back — claiming Mr Dershowitz was specifically exempted in the settlement because he was Epstein’s former lawyer.
Mr Brettler also tried to paint Ms Giuffre’s allegations as vague, saying: “I’d like even a date, a month. I would even settle for a year.
“We don’t even have a date, a time, a location, and even an apartment. In conclusory fashion, she doesn’t allege what this abuse was.”
'OPTIMISTIC VIRGINIA WILL GET DAY IN COURT'
But the judge cut him off and said: “With all respect, Mr Brettler, that’s not a dog that’s going to hunt here. She has no obligation to do that in the complaint.”
Mr Brettler also argued that ex- New York governor Andrew Cuomo acted unconstitutionally by extending the Child Victim’s Act deadline to August 2020.
Ms Giuffre was able to file her lawsuit five days before the deadline expired.
In summing up his motion, Mr Brettler added: “Prince Andrew should not be dragged into this court, 20 years after.
“Ms Giuffre has given plenty of interviews all over the world, then files this lawsuit. It is unfair, it is unjust, it should be dismissed.”
Lawyer David Boies, representing Ms Giuffre, said the agreement between her and Epstein did not release Andrew from legal action.
This was, he claimed, because Prince Andrew was not covered by jurisdiction of the Florida court and his conduct violated different laws to those included in the release.
He said of the royal: “There is no allegation that Prince Andrew was the person transporting.
“There is no allegation that Prince Andrew fell into the category of people who were doing the trafficking. He was somebody to whom the girls were trafficked.”
At the end of the hearing, Judge Kaplan, who addressed Mr Boies in a far less urgent tone than Mr Brettler, said: “I appreciate the arguments and the passion.”
Legal experts indicated they believed the judge would let Ms Giuffre’s lawsuit continue.
US lawyer Lisa Bloom said: “I am optimistic that Virginia will get her day in court.”
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