Prince Andrew’s efforts to discredit his accuser Virginia Giuffre by seeking to investigate whether she is suffering from “false memory syndrome” are symptomatic of his desperation after a week of sustained bad news for the scandal-hit royal, a source in Giuffre’s increasingly optimistic camp has exclusively told The Daily Beast.
The source added that Andrew’s effort to portray Giuffre, who accuses Andrew of raping her three times when she was 17, as an enthusiastic recruiter of underage girls for Epstein’s pedophile ring is likely to backfire as it “looks like victim-blaming.”
The pushback from Giuffre’s camp comes after Andrew, who this week deleted his social media profiles after being stripped of the use of his HRH titles by Queen Elizabeth, doubled down on his much-criticized attempts to undermine Giuffre’s credibility in two deposition requests.
Andrew, who is understood to be maintaining a defiant, business-as-usual attitude, even going so far as to host a shooting party at his house on Friday, the day after he was formally excommunicated from the royal family by the queen, is seeking to depose Giuffre’s former psychologist, Dr Judith Lightfoot, and her husband, Robert Giuffre. They are both resident in Australia.
Andrew’s legal team have asked the New York judge presiding over Giuffre’s civil trial, in which she is seeking unspecified, punitive damages against Andrew for alleged sexual abuse, to request “international judicial assistance” to enable the depositions to be requested.
The new filings indicate they want to question Giuffre’s former psychologist, Dr Judith Lightfoot, about the “theory of false memories”. A source close to Giuffre exclusively told The Daily Beast of the proposed line of questioning: “It tells you they are desperate.”
When it comes to suggesting that Giuffre “may suffer from false memories” the paperwork says her claims about “the circumstances under which (Andrew) allegedly assaulted her have repeatedly changed over the years.”
The Giuffre source told The Daily Beast of the “false memory” line of attack: “It is the defense Maxwell tried and it did not end well for Maxwell. I’m not sure why they think it will go any better for him. And what about all the other people who saw them together? Do they all have false memories too? What about the photograph? Is that a false memory?”
Ghislaine Maxwell’s attempt to use a "false memory" defense saw her lawyers argue that a combination of time elapsed and extensive media coverage of her case could have distorted memories. She was comprehensively found guilty by a jury—although she is now appealing.
The Giuffre source said, however, that the failure by Andrew’s legal team to get the entire situation “resolved” long before things had progressed to their current state was a mistake, saying: “Virginia signaled before the lawsuit that what she wanted was for him to take responsibility. Instead we have these attacks on her character and credibility, and now this false memory thing. It looks like blaming the victim, and blaming the victim just doesn’t work in today’s world.”
The source added: “It tells you they are desperate, and that they are not thinking things through. From the beginning they have responded day by day, just trying to delay this and obscure the facts. That does not serve them well in the long run.”
The source said that the hallmark of Andrew’s strategy had been one of denial and delay; “Ducking the subpoena and moving from castle to castle just delayed the inevitable and made him look more guilty,” the source added, “The motion to dismiss, based on attacking the constructionality of the New York statute, which both federal and state courts had already ruled was constitutional, was another delaying tactic.”
However, a source close to Andrew insisted that the prince should not be criticized for exercising his undisputed right to mount a robust defense to unsubstantiated allegations made against him by Giuffre.
“Ms Giuffre put her mental health at issue by suing for emotional distress damages. The duke’s legal team are perfectly entitled to test her claims, determine her damages, if any, and see what she told her therapist or not,” the source said.
Andrew, as is well known, denies Giuffre's accusations “in full”.
Andrew reiterated his position in the new court papers, and rehearsed again his argument that Giuffre is using the case as a smokescreen for her own behavior.
In the paperwork, Andrew says that Giuffre “claims to have been trafficked by Epstein to a list of various high-profile individuals (a list that has changed over time) in an effort to deflect from her own participation in Epstein’s sex trafficking scheme, including by recruiting young women (including at least one 14 year old girl) to become sexual partners for Epstein.”
A source in Andrew’s camp previously told The Daily Beast that they fully intended to keep on ratcheting up the pressure when it came to Giuffre’s motives and character.
“Her credibility remains at the core of this dispute,” the source previously told The Daily Beast, adding then that the Maxwell verdict “should have no impact on the proceedings.”
Giuffre’s side have previously told The Daily Beast that attacks based on Giuffre’s actions when she was working for Epstein have “absolutely nothing to do with whether Prince Andrew participated in sex trafficking.”
Andrew continues to insist, both privately and publicly, that he has no recollection of ever meeting Giuffre, and strenuously denies her allegations that she was trafficked to him for sexual purposes by Epstein and Maxwell.
He is believed to be sequestered at his home in Windsor Great Park, Royal Lodge, which he shares with his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, to whom he remains close.
Sources have told The Daily Beast that the couple occupy separate wings of the vast 30-roomed mansion.
Andrew has maintained a defiant stance since being humiliatingly stripped of his royal titles after a judge rejected Andrew’s claim that he was protected from legal action by Giuffre by the terms of a $500,000 settlement signed in 2009 between Giuffre and Epstein, resolving claims by Giuffre who accused Epstein of trafficking her.
This triggered the queen’s dramatic move to strip him of all remaining royal associations in a desperate effort to put distance between Andrew and the crown in her platinum jubilee year.
If he persists in the victim-shaming strategy that is currently being mooted, the queen may wish she had cut him loose sooner.