LONDON (AP) — Attorneys representing Britain’s Prince Andrew say they’ve been assured by the U.S. Department of Justice that he is not a target in the investigation of the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The firm, Blackfords LLP, said U.S. authorities requested the help of the son of Queen Elizabeth II for the first time in January after having investigated Epstein for 16 years. He has offered three times to do so — contrary to the statements of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, the firm said.
“Importantly, the DOJ advised us that the Duke is not and has never been a ‘target’ of their criminal investigations into Epstein and that they sought his confidential, voluntary co-operation,’’ the attorneys said.
The firm issued the unusual statement after reports in Britain’s Sun newspaper and on NBC that American authorities had formally requested that Andrew answer questions on the matter. He categorically denies wrongdoing and has repeatedly insisted that he was willing to cooperate with U.S. authorities.
Berman has instead said that Andrew has provided “zero cooperation” to the American investigators who want to interview him as part of their sex trafficking probe.
The contrasting views of what is going on behind the scenes came after The Sun newspaper reported that the DOJ submitted a mutual legal assistance request to Britain’s Home Office. Such requests are used in criminal cases under a treaty and are generally used when material can’t be obtained on a police cooperation basis.
As Blackfords insists Andrew is trying to cooperate, it pushed back Monday. It said it was a “matter of regret’’ that the department would “breach its own rules of confidentiality, not least as they are designed to encourage witness cooperation.
“Far from our client acting above the law, as has been implied by press briefings in the US, he is being treated by a lower standard than might reasonably be expected for any other citizen,’’ Blackfords said. “Further, those same breaches of confidentiality by the DOJ have given the global media – and, therefore, the worldwide audience – an entirely misleading account of our discussions with them.
Andrew has flatly denied he had sex with a teenager who says she was trafficked by Epstein. The woman, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, has said Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew in 2001, when she was 17.
She said Epstein flew her around the world on private planes to have sex with powerful men, and that she had sexual encounters with Andrew in London, New York and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Epstein killed himself in a U.S. jail last summer as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.