Prince Andrew subjecting Epstein victims to 'torture test', US lawyer claims

Video report by ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship

The Duke of York is subjecting victims of Jeffrey Epstein to a "torture test" by not telling prosecutors what he knows, a US lawyer says.

Gloria Allred said Prince Andrew is "avoiding and evading" US law authorities by not providing a statement after his friend Ghislaine Maxwell appeared in court accused of facilitating Epstein's sexual exploitation of underage girls.

British socialite Maxwell was arrested in New Hampshire on Thursday over allegations she helped the disgraced financier - her former boyfriend - "identify, befriend and groom" girls, including one as young as 14.

Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York, told a press conference that authorities would "welcome" a statement from the duke in relation to the investigation.

Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York Credit: John Minchillo/AP

But a source close to Andrew said: "The duke's team remains bewildered given that we have twice communicated with the Department of Justice (DOJ) in the last month and to date we have had no response."

Lawyers for some of Epstein's alleged victims on Friday added pressure on the duke to speak about his friendship with the disgraced financier - who took his own life in prison last year while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.

Ms Allred - representing Epstein's alleged victims - told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "The question is, Prince Andrew when is he going to tell what he knows?

"He needs to do that. He needs to do it without delay. It is so traumatising and difficult for the victims not to know the truth."

She continued: "This kind of torture test that Prince Andrew is subjecting the victims to, like will he or won’t he give a statement, if he will, when?

"More excuses, more delays, it really is painful for many of the victims. It’s just not fair."

Spencer Coogan - another lawyer for Epstein's alleged victims - said his clients were "relieved" that Maxwell had finally been arrested. He urged the duke to speak up about what he witnessed while visiting Epstein's properties in New York, Palm Beach and the Virgin Islands.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "I certainly think Prince Andrew has a story to tell. On behalf of the victims we have continuously asked him to step forward, step up, be a man and tell us what he knows.

"He has been hiding behind not only the royal family but his attorneys."

The Queen's second son has always vehemently denied any wrongdoing - his lawyers have previously said: "The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the Department of Justice".

Asked to comment on how the government would respond if the US authorities made an approach to interview Andrew, Boris Johnson told LBC: "No such approach has been made and otherwise it really is a matter for the royal family."

Speaking on the same radio station, London Mayor Sadiq Khan called on the duke to provide information to the American authorities saying: "I think it's really important for those of us in positions of power and influence to lead by example."

The Mayor added: "We shouldn't lose sight of the fact who the victims are, the victims were children at the time - vulnerable children, young women - and it's really important that anybody who’s got information helps the FBI and that includes Prince Andrew as well."

Jeffrey Epstein died in August 2019. Credit: New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP

At a brief hearing on Thursday, a magistrate judge ordered Maxwell to remain in custody while she is transferred to New York for a detention hearing.

Ms Strauss claimed that the socialite had helped Epstein to exploit underage girls and "in some cases" would participate in the abuse herself.

According to the indictment, three unnamed minors were allegedly "induced and enticed" by Maxwell, who "facilitated" for them to be groomed by Esptein at properties he owned.

These include residences in New York City, Palm Beach in Florida and Santa Fe in New Mexico, as well as Maxwell’s personal residence in London, prosecutors allege.

Ghislaine Maxwell in 2000 Credit: Chris Ison/PA

Authorities claim that Maxwell, who is also charged with two counts of perjury, lied when being questioned under oath in 2016.

She has previously denied any wrongdoing or knowledge of sexual misconduct by Epstein.

One of Epstein's alleged victims, Virginia Giuffre, claims she had sex with Prince Andrew at the socialite's London townhouse in 2001.

Maxwell, who has known Andrew since university and introduced him to Epstein, features in the background of a picture which apparently shows the duke with his arm around Ms Giuffre - also known as Virginia Roberts.

Ms Giuffre has claimed she was trafficked by Epstein and alleges the duke had sex with her on three separate occasions - including when she was 17, still a minor under US law.

Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre, while his lawyers have insisted the duke has repeatedly offered to provide a witness statement to the investigation.