Prince Andrew and Virginia Giuffre reach settlement over sexual abuse claim

A private settlement has protected the most shamed of British royals and his family from the scrutiny of an American court, ITV News US Correspondent Emma Murphy reports

The Duke of York and his accuser Virginia Giuffre have reached an out-of-court settlement in the civil sexual abuse claim filed in the US.

Ms Guiffre accused Prince Andrew of allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was 17-years-old, a minor under US law.

She claimed that the abuse took place while she was travelling with Jeffrey Epstein, a convicted financier and Andrew's friend. The duke has strenuously denied these allegations and previously attempted to get the lawsuit dropped.

David Boies, who represents Ms Giuffre, said in a letter submitted to the US District Court that lawyers on both sides were informing the judge that a settlement in principle has been reached. The letter indicated the sum would not be disclosed but said a dismissal of the lawsuit will be requested within a month.

When asked for comment on the settlement, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies said: “I believe this event speaks for itself.”

Ms Giuffre (right) sued Prince Andrew (left) for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

Court documents show the Duke will make a “substantial donation to Ms Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights”.

The statement adds: “Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.

“It is known that Jeffrey Epstein trafficked countless young girls over many years.

“Prince Andrew regrets his association with Epstein, and commends the bravery of Ms Giuffre and other survivors in standing up for themselves and others."

US Correspondent Emma Murphy explains why Prince Andrew might have decided to settle

Andrew has also pledged to “demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein” by supporting the “fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims”.

In January, the duke’s lawyers submitted 11 reasons why the case against him should be dismissed, saying he demanded a trial by jury. At the time Mr Boies, said his client and legal team were looking forward to “confronting” the royal about his “denials”.

Representatives for Prince Andrew said he would not be expanding beyond the statement filed in court and also declined to explain how the donation to Ms Giuffre’s charity would be funded. Meanwhile, Buckingham Palace refused to respond to the development at all.

The Queen stripped her second son of his prestigious honorary military titles and royal patronages in January, and he stopped using his HRH style, in a move that effectively cast him adrift from the institution.

It is understood that the statement released by the Palace on January 13, outlining the changes, still stands, with the duke continuing not to undertake any public duties.

The settlement has come in the monarch’s historic Platinum Jubilee year, and gives the royal family the chance to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years on the throne at the national festivities in June without the threat of Andrew’s trial looming over them.

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Royal author Penny Junor said the settlement made by the Duke of York is likely to come as a “huge relief” to the rest of the Royal family.

She said: “Going to trial, it could have been very, very nasty.

“It could have been embarrassing, humiliating, and it would have been huge fodder for the tabloid press.”

Lisa Bloom, a lawyer representing a number of Epstein’s victims said she and her clients “salute Virginia’s stunning courage”.

In a tweet, she said: “[Ms Giuffre] has accomplished what no one else could: getting Prince Andrew to stop his nonsense and side with sexual abuse victims. We salute Virginia’s stunning courage.”

Sigrid McCawley, one of Ms Giuffre’s lawyers, also weighed in, saying: “As a managing partner at a firm that has from its beginning acted upon the belief that the law should be marshalled to bring justice to the most vulnerable, I can say, without hesitation, that our representation of survivors upholds that tradition.

“I am very pleased with the resolution of Virginia Giuffre’s litigation against Prince Andrew.”

Arthur Aidala, a lawyer familiar with the case, said it's likely the public will never know how much money the settlement was worth.

However, he added: "Would I be shocked if it was leaked that he wrote a cheque for £20 million to make her go away? I wouldn't be surprised at all."