Britain’s Prince Andrew, who reportedly darted to Scotland to dodge being served with a lawsuit from a victim of Jeffrey Epstein, has in fact already been served with the papers, lawyers say.
Court records filed Friday indicate a process server left a complaint for the Duke of York—a longtime pal of the late sex-offender Epstein and who is facing accusations of abuse himself—in August at the Royal Lodge Windsor, the mansion he shares with ex-wife Fergie.
Weeks earlier, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, a survivor of Epstein’s underage sex ring, filed the lawsuit against Andrew in New York. She alleges the 61-year-old royal assaulted her when she was 17 at Epstein’s Manhattan mansion, among other locations, and that Epstein and his alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell “intimidated [her] into remaining silent.”
Giuffre’s lawyers expect a showdown with the prince’s counsel, who will likely argue he hasn’t properly been served. An initial conference in Giuffre’s case is scheduled for Monday, though no lawyer has entered an appearance on behalf of Andrew.
Sigrid McCawley, an attorney for Giuffre, told The Daily Beast that it’s her firm’s position that Andrew has been properly served and must face Giuffre’s claims.
“The importance of the suit against Prince Andrew is it establishes that in the United States no one is above the law and power and privilege cannot be used to escape liability,” McCawley told us Friday.
“Prince Andrew and his attorneys are fully aware of Virginia Giuffre’s claims against him and the case should proceed on the merits,” she said.
But a source connected to Andrew told The Daily Beast that the embattled prince was not served in person, which the source believes is a requirement under the Hague Convention.
In a letter filed with the court on Friday, David Boies, another lawyer for Giuffre, had a different interpretation of the international agreement.
Andrew was not only served via methods that comply with the Hague Convention, Boies wrote to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, but also in accordance with British law.
Giuffre “is also in the process of serving Prince Andrew through the United Kingdom’s Central Authority—the Foreign Process Section of the Royal Courts of Justice,” Boies noted. The Foreign Process Section confirmed receipt of Giuffre’s request for service abroad on Aug. 20 and “indicated that it was in the process of arranging service,” Boies said.
Boies added that the agency “did not indicate” that Giuffre’s request “does not comply with the Hague Convention or that it objected to the request.”
Meanwhile, Boies also referenced an “erroneous suggestion” by the prince’s lawyer, Gary Bloxsome, that a 2009 release in a civil suit Giuffre filed against Epstein in Florida also frees his royal buddy from any liability.
Andrew was not a party in that case, but Bloxsome argued in a Sept. 6 letter to Boies and a U.K. court official that Giuffre signed the release “in respect of claims against persons associated with” Epstein. Bloxsome also suggested this release may have led to the dismissal of “similar causes of action” in Giuffre’s recent lawsuit against Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
“Once we are able to obtain a copy of the settlement agreement in Florida, which appears to be subject to confidentiality restrictions, we will be able to determine whether Ms. Giuffre has a viable claim,” Bloxsome wrote. “Obviously until we have made that determination, it is difficult for us to give advice as to whether the Duke should voluntarily accept service.”
According to an affidavit of the process server, Cesar Augusto Sepulveda, royal security initially declined to accept Giuffre’s lawsuit in late August.
On Aug. 26, Sepulveda waited at the gates of the Royal Lodge, slipping security staff his business card. Then he met with two Metropolitan Police officers, one who was head of security, who “could not raise anyone in charge there,” the document states.
Sepulveda was informed that the royal’s security staff weren’t permitted to allow process servers onto the grounds and were “told not to accept service,” the affidavit says. The filing adds that Sepulveda was told that “anything left there would not be forwarded to” Andrew.
The head of security allegedly told Sepulveda that he couldn’t reach Andrew’s private secretary and gave him the phone number of Andrew’s lawyer. That lawyer, Gary Bloxsome, didn’t answer Sepulveda’s call.
Sepulveda returned the next morning and asked a Metropolitan police officer “whether it was possible to meet personally” with Andrew, but the officer declined to answer questions about the Duke’s whereabouts. This time, however, the officer said Sepulveda could leave the lawsuit, which would be forwarded to the royal’s legal team.
Friday’s court filing arrived two days after the tabloid The Sun called Andrew a “Runaway Prince” for fleeing to the royal family’s Balmoral Castle—and after Boies told ABC News he would brief the court on the various attempts to serve Andrew at his home, through law firms and in the mail.
According to ABC, Andrew’s attorneys argue Giuffre doesn’t have a viable claim against him—and that her legal team hasn’t followed proper procedure in serving the prince with court papers. ABC first reported on Bloxsome’s letter, which indicated that a judicial or diplomatic officer in America—not Giuffre’s attorneys—are required to file a request for assistance from court officers in the U.K.
Bloxsome wrote that if the New York judge on the case makes that request, “then it is likely that our client will be content to agree to a convenient method of alternative service.”
Giuffre’s lawsuit suggests that Andrew—who was photographed holding her bare waist at Maxwell’s London home—has refused to cooperate with investigators in the U.S., as well as lawyers for victims of Epstein.
“After publicly feigning ignorance about the scope of Epstein’s sex-trafficking operation and sympathy for Epstein’s victims, Prince Andrew has refused to cooperate with U.S. authorities in their investigation and prosecution of Epstein and his co-conspirators,” the complaint alleges.
“Counsel for the victims of Epstein’s sex trafficking … have repeatedly asked for a meeting or telephone call with Prince Andrew and/or his representatives to enable Prince Andrew to provide whatever facts, context, or explanation he might have, and to explore alternative dispute resolution approaches,” the complaint alleges.
With additional reporting by Tom Sykes