Prince Andrew’s television appearance was supposed to do away with suspicions about his longtime friendship with dead child sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, but the royal’s widely mocked interview had the opposite effect.
Lawyers for Epstein’s victims demanded Queen Elizabeth II’s second son, 59, cooperate with the FBI’s investigation into the jet-setting financier’s illicit activities following the Duke of York’s disastrous sit-down interview with BBC Newsnight on Saturday. British legal experts said the prince hurt his image, although there’s disagreement over whether his excuses increased his potential criminal jeopardy.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, 35, alleges Epstein and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, 57, exploited her when she was underage, accusing the prince of forcing her to have sex with him at Maxwell’s home in London and at Epstein’s homes in New York and the U.S. Virgin Islands when she was 17. Both Epstein and Andrew are longtime friends of Maxwell, who is being scrutinized by investigators.
“He knows exactly what he’s done,” Giuffre said from the steps of a Manhattan courthouse in August. “And I hope he comes clean about it.”
Jack Scarola, part of Giuffre’s legal team, said Andrew’s TV appearance wasn’t enough.
“I would love to see Prince Andrew submit to an interview under oath with the investigating authorities. Talking to the media doesn’t quite cut it. Statements that are not under oath carry little weight,” Scarola told the Daily Mail, adding, “Andrew would be considered at the least a key witness. I doubt that he is a target of the investigation but it is possible.”
Ben Keith, a U.K.-based barrister and extradition expert, told the Washington Examiner Andrew’s interview “makes him look dishonest and evasive.”
Keith said Andrew is likely considered a witness, not a subject, of the FBI’s investigation. “But in the process, he’s been dragged into the investigation and been accused of various things,” Keith said. “That interview didn’t do a good job of bolstering his case that he’s just a witness and not a suspect.”
Keith explained how U.S. investigators could approach Andrew. “The FBI could just say to him, ‘Would you mind if we came and spoke to you about this?’ and he could say yes or no,” Keith said. “Or they could make a formal request through political channels for him to give an interview in a criminal investigation — but given the political fallout I doubt they’d do something like that unless they had something really concrete on him.”
Keith said Andrew’s television performance “probably gave them a pretty good preview of how he’d perform if they interviewed him — badly.”
But Keith said the FBI likely can’t force Andrew to talk.
“They can’t compel him or extradite him until they say he’s guilty of some criminal offense, and it’s not clear that is going to happen,” Keith said, adding, “It’s a public relations nightmare rather than a legal nightmare.”
Anna Rothwell, a British solicitor and expert in sex crimes and international law, said Andrew might be in trouble.
“His friendship with the convicted sex offender Epstein is under investigation by the FBI, and he is vulnerable to extradition,” Rothwell told the Times of London. “It is therefore very unwise for the prince to give any account to the media, especially one which so starkly exposes the closeness of his relationship with Epstein.”
Andrew hedged on whether he’d talk to the FBI.
“If push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so, then I would be duty-bound to do so,” Andrew said.
Lisa Bloom, who represents Epstein accusers, has said that Andrew needs to talk to the FBI. “I think he’s made things worse for himself in this interview and I think it’s more likely the authorities are going to want to speak to him now — and they should want to,” she said.
Gloria Allred, who also represents Epstein victims, has said that Andrew “should speak to the FBI — he should volunteer to do that. He doesn’t need to wait and see if his attorneys think it’s a good idea,” Allred said. “He very well may have evidence or information that’s relevant to possibly prosecuting others who conspired to help sex traffic underage girls.”
Spencer Kuvin, a lawyer who represented Epstein victims, said the royal admitted “his friendship was directly with Ghislaine Maxwell, and she is under investigation as a co-conspirator” and “anything he says can be used in cross-examination against him later.”
Members of Britain’s Labour Party called for Andrew to cooperate with the FBI, too.
The DOJ and the FBI did not respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.
Andrew previously claimed to have visited Epstein “probably no more than only once or twice a year,” although the number increased to “perhaps maybe a maximum of three times a year” this weekend. Andrew invited Epstein to royal residences and stayed at Epstein’s homes numerous times, including in 2010 — after Epstein’s sex offender conviction.
During his interview with the BBC, Andrew claimed he has no memory of meeting Giuffre and denied having sex with her, attempting to cast doubt on the veracity of a smiling picture of himself with his arm wrapped around Giuffre with Maxwell in the background. Alleged sources close to the prince told British newspapers the photo was faked, which Giuffre denied.
Attorney General William Barr said the investigation into Epstein’s alleged international sex trafficking conspiracy will continue and co-conspirators “should not rest easy.”
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is investigating the circumstances surrounding Epstein’s suicide by hanging, and Democrats called upon Barr to expand it to a wider inquiry into the sweetheart deal Epstein received from the DOJ over a decade ago.