Will Prince Andrew appear in court? A lot depends on what gets decided today

Credit: PA

Whether or not the Queen’s second son will be heading for a courtroom in the US, will largely depend on what a judge in New York decides today.

Prince Andrew is arguing the civil case against him – a lawsuit brought by his accuser Virginia Giuffre – should be thrown out.

It will all depend on whether Judge Lewis A Kaplan, sitting remotely on Tuesday, concludes that the Duke of York can be considered a “potential defendant” as described in Ms Giuffre’s settlement agreement – which was made public for the first time on Monday.

Not only did it reveal that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison, paid Giuffre $500,000 in 2009, but that she agreed not to pursue any further legal action against anyone who could be considered a “potential defendant” or “second party.”

Prince Andrew’s lawyers will argue today that in Ms Giuffre’s 2009 lawsuit against Epstein (which this settlement agreement stopped) she alleged to have been trafficked to Epstein’s “adult male peers” including “royalty” and other “personal acquaintances.”

Taken together, therefore, Prince Andrew’s team will say the 2009 lawsuit and the 2009 settlement agreement means the royal is covered by this deal and Virginia Giuffre’s civil case against the duke should be dismissed.

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If Prince Andrew’s lawyers are not successful today, his case will be one step closer to a trial, which is currently scheduled for the Autumn of this year.

Sources inside Prince Andrew’s office argue that he has never disputed that he was friends with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell – who was convicted last week of trafficking girls for sex.

But they maintain the prince had no knowledge of what was going on inside Epstein’s homes when he stayed in them.

Virginia Giuffre is suing Prince Andrew, alleging he sexually assaulted her in 2001 in three locations: London, New York and in the US Virgin Islands.

He has consistently denied all her allegations and says he does not recall ever meeting her.

Prince Andrew remains at his home at Royal Lodge on the Windsor Estate.

What do the documents tell us and what happens next in the lawsuit? ITV News Royal Editor Chris Ship explains

He is hoping the US celebrity lawyer he recently hired, Andrew B Brettler, will be able to convince the judge that the royal is covered by this 12 year old settlement agreement.

Virginia Giuffre’s lawyers, however, will be arguing with equal force that Prince Andrew does not fall under the terms of the agreement, that it is too wide ranging (it refers to persons “from the beginning of the world to the day of this release”) and that Prince Andrew did not even know about the settlement at the time.

Whatever happens today, Prince Andrew’s reputation has suffered terrible damage from the allegations in this lawsuit and from his former friendship with Epstein and Maxwell - two convicted sex offenders.

But his lawyers are trying to stop this case going to trial – and today is therefore a significant moment for the prince.