Prince Andrew is facing mounting calls to provide information to US law enforcement agencies and to lawyers who are investigating crimes committed by American sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and his associates.
Lawyers for Epstein’s victims believe Andrew may have valuable information about the late financier’s sex offences. When Epstein died in August, he was facing charges of trafficking in underage girls who provided sexual favours to the powerful men visiting his luxury properties in the Caribbean, and elsewhere.
The 59-year-old prince stepped down from his royal duties on Wednesday with the approval of his mother the Queen, after a weekend interview in which he tried to justify his well-documented ties to Epstein backfired spectacularly.
Charities and British educational institutions that had fundraising ties to Andrew – the royal website lists dozens – had quickly begun to question if he could actually hurt their brands.
Andrew still may face legal questioning about allegations that he had sex with a girl provided by Epstein when she was just 17, a charge he has denied and that she insists is true.
US attorney Gloria Allred, who represents some of the women abused by Epstein, said yesterday that Andrew should contact American authorities “without conditions and without delay”.
Andrew announced in his statement on Wednesday that he is “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required” but did not volunteer to provide evidence.
It is not clear if US authorities are investigating Andrew for any possible wrongdoing. Many of the court papers related to the Epstein case are still sealed and unavailable to the public.
British legal experts, meanwhile, are divided over whether Andrew enjoys immunity from prosecution as a senior British royal.
Some say Andrew should reach out to US officials in an effort clear his name rather than wait for a subpoena or legal action that would force him to testify, which could happen if American officials working through the US Embassy in London ask the Foreign Office to secure Andrew’s co-operation.
Lawyer Mark Stephens said Andrew will eventually have to testify under oath to answer Virginia Giuffre’s charge that she was encouraged to have sex with Andrew three times when she was 17.
“The question is where he answers,” Mr Stephens said. “There is no reason why the FBI or indeed the lawyers for Virginia Roberts couldn’t come to the UK to take his evidence.”
“This whole episode shows why the monarchy is not fit for purpose,” said Graham Smith, the leader of Republic, an anti-monarchy organisation. “Andrew is the worst example of a long tradition of bad behaviour. We need a democratic alternative to the monarchy sooner rather than later.”