The Duke of York’s accuser Virginia Giuffre would be unlikely to accept a “purely financial settlement” to end her sexual assault civil lawsuit against the royal, her lawyer has said.
David Boies was speaking after a US judge rejected Prince Andrew’s motion to have the civil case against him dismissed, paving the way for a possible civil trial in the autumn.
Legal experts say one way for Andrew, 61, to avoid trial would be to reach an out-of-court settlement with Giuffre, 38, who claims she was trafficked by the financier Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with powerful people, including Andrew, when she was 17. Andrew has consistently denied her allegations.
Boies said: “I think it’s very important to Virginia Giuffre that this matter be resolved in a way that vindicates her and vindicates the other victims.”
“I don’t think that she has a firm view at this point, nor could she, as to exactly what the resolution should be. But I think what’s going to be important is that this resolution vindicates her and vindicates the claim she’s made,” he told BBC’s Newsnight.
Boies said there had been no suggestion of settlement discussions at this point. He said that prior to bringing the case they had “reached out” to Andrew and the prince’s lawyers and suggested mediation, but “there was no interest in that at that time”.
“Whether that has changed or not, I think we’ll have to wait and see.”
He added: “A purely financial settlement is not anything that I think she’s [Giuffre] interested in.”
When asked about the US ruling, a spokesperson for Buckingham Palace said: “We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter.”
Andrew now faces the prospect of Giuffre giving a detailed account in court of the allegation she was trafficked to have sex with the Queen’s second son when she was 17.
The Manhattan federal judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed a motion by the duke’s lawyers on Wednesday to have the civil case thrown out after they argued Giuffre had waived her right to pursue the royal by signing a confidential settlement in 2009 with Epstein, in exchange for $500,000, in which she agreed not to sue any other potential defendants.
In his detailed ruling, Kaplan decided there was more than one interpretation of the 2009 deal saying it was ambiguous, and that it was premature to consider the points raised by Andrew to cast doubt on Giuffre’s claims, though his efforts would be permissible at trial.
The ruling means the case now moves to the “discovery” phase. As it progresses towards trial, the duke, Giuffre and any other potential witnesses would have to give depositions.
Boies said the judge’s ruling was “an important step” in moving towards any trial. “It is, however, just one step and there are many more steps to be taken,” he said. The next would be the taking of evidence, and they were already in the phase of exchanging documents, he said.
He said Andrew had made a lot of statements in his 2019 Newsnight interview, “which he will have to try and back up in his deposition”.
Andrew’s approach had been “to deny, deny, deny, to blame Virginia, to criticise her, to attack her character, her moral credibility, and we will see how all that plays out when he’s under oath,” Boies said.
Asked if the case went to trial Andrew would be likely to appear in person, Boies said he thought the chances of the case going to trial were “good”.
“Whether he shows up himself, or simply his lawyers, is something that is in part up to him, and in part up to the court. In a civil case it is not always necessary for the defendant to be present when the trial takes place. It’s typically advisable because it is often hard to defend yourself when you’re absent,” he said.
Andrew has three main options – ignoring the lawsuit, which is his right, engaging with the American legal system to defend himself against the allegations, or attempting to reach an out-of-court settlement with Giuffre. If he ignores the civil proceedings, a default judgment would be made in favour of Giuffre.