Andrew to put sex claims behind him, says palace

Palace officials have 'emphatically denied' the Duke of York had sexual contact with the woman. Picture: PA
Palace officials have 'emphatically denied' the Duke of York had sexual contact with the woman. Picture: PA
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A “RESILIENT” Duke of York will attempt to put allegations of underage sex with a teenager behind him and return to public life when he attends a conference for world and business leaders.

Andrew has faced mounting controversy after he was named in US court documents as having sex with a woman, identified in reports as Virginia Roberts, on three separate occasions when she was a minor under Florida state law, where the case is taking place.

Palace officials have “emphatically denied” he had sexual contact with the woman and a royal aide added that in the coming weeks the duke will be focusing on his work promoting education, technology and enterprise.

The duke flew home on Sunday from a skiing holiday in the Swiss resort of Verbier but is expected to return to the country in a few weeks to join prime ministers, business leaders and economists at Davos, the venue for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting.

A royal aide suggested that, after the traditional New Year break, Andrew would “move on and push ahead” with his work.

The aide added: “The civil case is an ongoing process that won’t end any time soon. However, since 2012 the duke has worked very hard to establish and refocus his working priorities on education, technology and enterprise and he will carry on with that work.

“It’s fair to say that the Duke of York is nothing if not resilient. He will be keen to push on with the work he’s been doing in recent years.”

Andrew has regularly attended Davos in recent years and usually hosts a reception for leading figures from the worlds of business and politics.

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The event, which runs from 21-24 January, is not listed in Andrew’s official online diary but there is nothing to suggest he will not attend. There has been speculation that he will travel to the Queen’s Sandringham estate in Norfolk for talks with his mother over the crisis.

It is understood he will be spending the week quietly at his home, Royal Lodge at Windsor Great Park in Berkshire, but could still make a journey to Sandringham.

Ms Roberts, a US citizen, waived her anonymity in a newspaper interview in 2011 in which she claimed she had been sexually exploited by American billionaire and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein – a former friend of the duke.

In the US court papers, she goes further and alleges that between 1999 and 2002 she “was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor” in London, New York, and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein.

The accusation is reportedly contained in a motion filed in a Florida court last week which is part of a lawsuit over how federal prosecutors handled the case of Epstein, who was jailed for 18 months in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution.

A photo taken at the time of the allegations shows the duke with his arm around the waist of Ms Roberts as they smile.

Andrew was also photographed with Epstein in New York two years after the American’s release from prison in 2009 when their friendship was a source of controversy.

Several newspapers have published details of interviews given by Ms Roberts in recent years, in which she discusses the three alleged encounters with the duke. In a strongly worded statement, a Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. The allegations made are false and without any foundation.”

Meanwhile, yesterday Sky Roberts, the father of Ms Roberts, claimed that his daughter had met the Queen.

Mr Roberts, 58, said: “Virginia told me a few years back that she met Prince Andrew when she went to London and she also said while they were there she met the Queen.”

But a palace spokesman insisted: “There is nothing to suggest the claim is true. We have no record of such a meeting.”

Meanwhile, Scotland Yard confirmed it had not received any complaint related to the case. A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “In line with Metropolitan Police Service policy, any allegation of crime would be investigated.”

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