A New York court hearing Virginia Giuffre's sex abuse case against Prince Andrew was told last week that the royal was aware that his accuser was bieng trafficked to him by convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

The court presided by Judge Lewis Kaplan was hearing on a motion by the royal's lawyers to dismiss the civil case by Virginia Giuffre on the grounds that she waived her right to sue him when she signed a £370,000 private settlement with Epstein in 2009. According to a report in The Sun, Andrew's legal team head Andrew Brettler told the judge, "She (Giuffre) contends that Prince Andrew was aware that she was being trafficked."

"She claims that she was trafficked to a bunch of different categories of individuals, including royalty, academia, businessmen. Those individuals would be part of the same enterprise. It wasn't as if she is alleging that this was some secret trafficking arrangement," he added.

Andrew's team argued that the legal settlement between Giuffre and Epstein included a provision that claims to protect "other potential defendants" from being sued related to alleged sexual abuse committed by Epstein. However, Judge Kaplan found the language "unclear" noting that the 12-page agreement also states it is "not intended to be used by any other person" to protect themselves from lawsuits."

The judge announced that he would reveal his ruling in the case "pretty soon," most likely within days. However, legal experts said that the hearing "could not have gone worse" for Andrew and the judgement is likely to go against him.

In anticipation of the setback, Andrew's lawyers are reportedly contemplating a separate out-of-court settlement with Giuffre to prevent Andrew from going to trial. Insiders said that a private settlement between the Duke of York and his accuser "remains on the table" as his team takes into the "attritional impact" the case can have on the reputation of the British monarchy if it goes to trial.

Meanwhile, the Duke of York has found a mystery buyer for his Swiss ski chalet in order to pay his expensive lawyers, after Buckingham Palace refused to help him with the bills.

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Prince Andrew Photo: AFP / Lillian SUWANRUMPHA