Why Prince Andrew is still being dragged into the Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell sex allegations

The Duke was not named in Thursday's indictment and there were no charges relating to him, but every time the Jeffrey Epstein story limps on to the next development, the name "Prince Andrew" inevitably crops up.

By dint of his position in the Royal Family and as a consequence of his disastrous television interview last year, no press conference can pass without the prosecutor behind the lectern being asked about the Queen's second son.

And so it proved again today.

After Audrey Strauss, the Acting US Attorney in New York, had set out the case against Ghislaine Maxwell, she was asked if the FBI had yet spoken to the Duke of York.

The attorney replied: "We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us. We would like to have the benefit of his statement. Our doors remain open as we've previously said."

The Duke is a person of interest to investigators because of the long-term friendship he admits he had with Epstein.

He has spoken of how he stayed at Epstein's houses in New York, in Florida and in the US Virgin Islands and he has travelled on the disgraced financier's private jet.

He has also visited Ghislaine Maxwell's house in London.

Three of those properties are named in today's indictment as locations where victims "were groomed and/or abused".

Last year, the Prince admitted to inviting Ghislaine Maxwell to what he called a "straightforward shooting weekend" at Sandringham so there is no doubt that he was close to her.

And it is because of that closeness to both Maxwell and Epstein that investigators do still wish to talk to the Royal.

Strauss, however, would not been drawn on the Duke's status when asked they wanted to speak to him as a "witness or a suspect".

Today, a source close to Prince Andrew said: "The Duke's team remains bewildered given we have twice communicated with the Department of Justice in the last month and to-date we have had no response."

Earlier this year, her predecessor in New York accused the Prince of giving them "zero-cooperation" with their investigation.

But last month, the Duke of York's legal team hit back claiming their client had "on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness".

The statement also said that the US prosecutor's claims were "inaccurate and they should not have been made".

And they sought to clarify that the Duke of York is "not a target" of the US criminal investigation.

But, as it was made clear today, that statement has still not been provided.

Prince Andrew (left) has vehemently denied claims from Jeffrey Epstein's victims that they were trafficked to him for sex. Credit: News Syndication

Prince Andrew's admission of his friendships, and his attendance at the various properties owned by Epstein and Maxwell, means he will always be dragged into this story whenever it reaches a new stage.

He might have chosen his friends very badly in Epstein and Maxwell, but the arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell today makes no further claims of wrongdoing on Prince Andrew's part.

Prince Andrew has vehemently denied claims from Jeffrey Epstein's victims that they were trafficked to him for sex.

He also denied ever seeing or witnessing any wrongdoing when he stayed at Epstein's homes during their friendship.