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For the Duke of York, the fact he was barely mentioned in Ghislaine Maxwell’s trial will have been an undoubted relief. With Maxwell declining the stand, no opening of her “little black book” of society contacts and, crucially, no sign of his accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre, Prince Andrew was a mere footnote in the New York proceedings.
Maxwell opted not to give evidence before being found guilty on five of six charges, saying there was “no need” because prosecutors had failed to prove their case, so the subject of Andrew was not raised with her via cross-examination.
Of her book of contacts – said to be a version of Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous 97 pages of names and addresses – all but one small extract remained under seal on the judge’s orders. As a close friend of Maxwell’s, Andrew’s details would undoubtedly have been inside, possibly allowing prosecutors to prise the door open on her relationship with the royal.
However, it was the non-appearance of Giuffre, 38, who was called neither by the prosecution nor the defence, that prevented him being thrust head-first into the high-profile trial.
Giuffre is suing Andrew in a civil lawsuit, claiming he had sex with her on three occasions two decades ago when, aged 17, she had been sexually trafficked by Epstein, allegations Andrew vehemently denies.
Her absence was perplexing, as her name was introduced countless times, her photograph was shown in court and she has been one of the most prominent accusers of Epstein and Maxwell. A deposition, given by Maxwell in a 2016 civil suit brought by Giuffre, formed the basis of two perjury charges against the British socialite, who denied all charges.
Giuffre was “available” if called upon to give evidence, the court heard. “Certainly, if she had been called, it would have seen Andrew centre-stage,” said Mark Stephens of the law firm Howard Kennedy.
Prosecutors gave no reason for their decision. But they may have feared it would complicate the case, especially if inconsistencies could be shown in accounts Giuffre has previously given over the years.
It could be, said Stephens, “that the reason the prosecution did not call Giuffre in the Ghislaine Maxwell case is that they risked an own goal if her credibility could be undermined, which would have given Maxwell a leg-up”.
Andrew’s lawyers have sought to target Giuffre’s credibility as they attempt to get the case against him dismissed in the civil proceedings she has brought. His legal team has painted her as an unreliable witness, querying certain dates and figures she has provided, and accusing her of seeking another “payday”.
She has previously explained any discrepancies as innocent mistakes, and the result of recalling events from many years ago that had left her traumatised.
Andrew’s part in Maxwell’s courtroom drama was, therefore, reduced to mentions of him being a guest onboard Epstein’s “Lolita Express” private plane, with the pilots testifying to seeing nothing to suggest sexual activity on the part of those onboard during flights.
“It’s fair to say, I think, there must be some relief for Andrew that Giuffre did not appear, because it does distance him, somewhat, from the case,” said Stephens.
Nonetheless, he added, “it did not matter if Maxwell was found guilty, or innocent”, as the prince’s reputation was already tarnished, “indelibly so, as, frankly, the association with a convicted paedophile like Jeffrey Epstein is enough”.
“A guilty verdict on Ghislaine Maxwell, you might say, is almost priced in regarding Prince Andrew and reputational damage. People have already made up their minds about him and the verdict would have no impact on how they view him.”
Now Andrew must brace for the next round in the civil case against him, with the US district judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan scheduling a 4 January hearing when the royal’s lawyers are expected to argue for a dismissal of the case. If they are not successful, or if the case is not settled, it is expected to go for trial between September and December 2022.
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