Lawyers representing Prince Andrew are trying to rebuff the sex abuse case against him as "baseless" in the United States while the British royal is enjoying life as per usual in the United Kingdom.
Top lawyer Andrew B. Brettler, who was recruited by the royal to fight the lawsuit filed against him by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre, appeared in the US district court for the southern district of New York for the first time on Monday for a pre-trial hearing. Dismissing Giuffre's accusations that Prince Andrew sexually assaulted her while she was still a teenager after she was trafficked by his former friend and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Brettler said, "We believe this is a baseless, unviable and potentially unlawful lawsuit that the plaintiff has filed against the duke."
"There has been a settlement agreement that the plaintiff has entered into in a prior action that release the duke and others from any and all potential liability," the lawyer argued during the hearing which was conducted by telephone, as per Metro.
The hearing mostly focused on whether the Duke of York had been properly served notice of the case against him, amid reports that he is trying to avoid legal papers by "hiding" at his mother Queen Elizabeth II's Scottish Balmoral estate. His lawyer said that the absence of document "absolves our client from any and all liability," arguing that there are precedents of other defendants avoiding similar proceedings due to this.
However, David Boies, representing the accused, insisted that the complaint had been "delivered to the last known address of the defendant" and also sent by Royal Mail. "We believe we have complied with the service requirement, and we filed proof of service last Friday," Boies said, noting that he had expected the royal to claim that he wasn't properly served the notice.
In court documents filed on Friday, Boies had mentioned that their team had tried to serve the papers to the Duke on August 26 at his house Royal Lodge in Windsor Great Park. However, a Metropolitan Police Officer serving as the head of security said they cannot accept any court process or allow anyone to try to serve papers on the property grounds. The next day, the agent was informed that they could leave the court process with the police officer at the main gate after which it would be forwarded to the legal team.
Legal experts say that it may be more than two years before Giuffre is asked to appear in court to repeat her allegations before a judge. Meanwhile, Andrew is carrying on with his life and was hosting a shooting party over the weekend just two days before the first hearing was scheduled in the US.
According to a report in the Sun, the 61-year-old hosted guests at the Queen's 550-acre Balmoral estate despite the looming legal proceedings. A royal source said: 'This is so brazen it is unbelievable. Prince Andrew is carrying on like nothing has happened and as if he hasn't got a care in the world."
"It has been bad enough that he appears to have been seeking refuge at Balmoral, where the Queen is trying to have quiet time after a tough year... and it is also tone deaf as if he does not care about what is going on with the legal case," they added.
A source had previously said that even royal courtiers were agitated when the father-of-two suddenly travelled to the property in Aberdeenshire where the British monarch is currently staying. "It looks like he is running to mummy and that she is almost harbouring him. No one wants Andrew near Balmoral. It looks like he is hiding behind a woman who is approaching 100 years old. He needs to pull his socks up and face his responsibilities," the insider said.
Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer representing nine Epstein victims, had said that they fear Andrew will never be held accountable due to such legal tactics he has been using to avoid an appearance in the court. A report in The Mirror also noted that Andrew's royal status is preventing him from appearing in court, as the law states that no arrests can be made in his mother's presence or within the surroundings of a royal palace.