London Court Moves To Serve Prince Andrew With Trafficking Lawsuit, Voiding His Attempt To Dismiss It In New York
It’s been clear since Virginia Roberts Giuffre first publicly lodged her accusations against Prince Andrew — of three counts of sexual intercourse with her as she was under the age of consent in London, New York, and in the U.S. Virgin Islands on Epstein’s private island, Little Saint James — that, difficult as it has been for the Royal Family to have been exercised Prince Andrew as an “asset” to the Crown for the last decade of the prince’s long friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, it would be vastly more difficult for the Crown even to tolerate the beleaguered prince as a non-working royal-in-retreat, if Ms. Giuffre’s charges gained any measure of legal footing in Britain. That project, tolerating Andrew, has steadily gotten a lot more difficult for his brother Charles and his mother Queen Elizabeth as Ms. Giuffre’s legal efforts gained a great deal of footing in Britian upon her lodging of her civil action against Andrew in New York on August 9, some five days before a New York state legal window extending the time limit on civil actions from sexual abuse victims was shut.
For his part, Andrew and his legal team have steadfastly denied that the prince knew, or, technically, remembered having ever met Virginia Roberts Giuffre. The prince’s immediate response to the Giuffre lawsuit was a passable imitation of a deer caught in the headlights — stock still, and silent. To be sure, over the year since Andrew’s BBC televised interview that ended his life as a working royal, a resolute silence on all Epstein-related matters has been the tactic of the crisis-team of lawyers and advisors at Royal Lodge, so there’s been no real reason to suspect that the Windsor team’s response to the suit would be any different.
Except: A civil action lodged in New York, or anywhere in America for that matter, against any UK citizen does have a tangible legal effect in that country. This is what Virginia Roberts Giuffre’s perspicacious lawyer, David Boies, referred to in his dry remark to the press that “Time’s up” for Andrew. The suit triggered a plain, simple process. That may well be subject to many dogleg detours, delays and/or hotly-contested forms of “settlement” before it is tried, but the process is not reversible — one way, or the other, it will be played out.
The fact that Andrew’s legal team attended the September 13 videoconference before New York judge Lewis Kaplan and the Roberts Giuffre legal team means, also, that the suit is part of an international process to which the Crown, in the form of Andrew and his lawyers, must respond. That step in the process brought service into play. Andrew’s lawyers have maintained that he, the prince, has not been properly served notice of the proceedings, sequestered as he is at his main domicile, Royal Lodge — although this week Andrew is visiting his mother for the annual onset of the the grouse season in Scotland, at her retreat of Balmoral.
Service is one of those shape-of-the-negotiating-table disagreements that often occur in disputes of this magnitude. Such tactics can be used to gain time or to waste it, but in this case, on September 15, no less a legal body than London’s High Court stepped in to re-affirm its commitment to the international agreement insuring reciprocity by serving Prince Andrew notice of the pending legal proceeding. Mr. Boies’ UK agents had, since late August, served papers to a police officer at Royal Lodge and had sent papers by post and via FedEx, but the prince’s lawyers had attempted a joust on September 13 to the effect that the entire suit should be thrown out because the serving of the papers had been so dissatisfactory. Judge Kaplan found that argument to be a bit of a stretch on September 13, and asked Mr. Boies to explore “alternative methods.”
That the High Court has — with relative dispatch — found in Mr. Boies’ favor pretty much seals the deal, satisfying UK (and international) requirements for service of a lawsuit. In other words, Andrew may now freely enjoy potting away at the driven grouse rocketing by his gun stand at Balmoral, for however long he chooses. And going forward, he may still choose to ignore Ms. Giuffre’s suit, settle it, or address it in some fashion, according to his preferences. But as of the High Court’s decision, his to-date inaccessibility and remoteness has been stripped from him. Bottom line: One way or the other, Prince Andrew can be reached.