Virginia Giuffre, an alleged victim of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, has brought a civil case against Prince Andrew and accused the royal of sexual assault.
Here’s what we know so far.
What is Prince Andrew accused of?
Giuffre has accused Andrew of sexually abusing her in London, New York and in the US Virgin Islands, where Epstein had a private island.
She also alleges the Duke of York had sex with her without her consent, even though he knew she was 17 years old at the time and was “a sex-trafficking victim.”
Giuffre also adds the “extreme and outrageous conduct” still causes her “significant emotional and psychological distress and harm.”
She has appealed for unspecified damages and claims: “It is long past the time for him to be held to account.”
Andrew has consistently denied the allegations, and a spokeswoman has not commented on the case.
“I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”Prince Andrew during the 2019 BBC Newsnight interview
The Duke of York last spoke about Giuffre’s allegations against him publicly on BBC Newsnight, in November 2019.
During the car crash interview with Emily Maitlis, Andrew said, “it didn’t happen”, adding: “I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever.”
The backlash to his interview was so severe, Andrew – the Queen’s second son – stepped back from his public duties for the foreseeable future.
He later said: “I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein.”
He also added that he would be “willing to help with any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations”.
Buckingham Palace supported Andrew when he was a working royal, and said in 2015: “Any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”
Who is Virginia Giuffre?
Giuffre, formerly Virginia Roberts, is an alleged victim of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
She reportedly met Epstein through his long-time associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, in 2000, when the pair allegedly began grooming her.
Giuffre claims Epstein and Maxwell first trafficked her to Andrew in March 2001, and claims it happened at least twice more after that.
She ran away from them in 2002, when in Thailand, and broke off all contact with the trio.
Giuffre did not get involved with the FBI’s case against Epstein until 2007, and went on to file a civil lawsuit against Epstein in 2009.
She spoke to the BBC’s Panorama in October 2019 for an episode that was released in December about her allegations against Andrew.
She said: “I implore the people in the UK to stand up beside me, to help me fight this fight, to not accept this as being OK.”
Why is Prince Andrew being sued now?
The Child Victims Act of New York came into law in 2019. It enables survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file a case even if had already been time-barred or had expired.
The one-year window gave victims a year to do so, but delays caused by the pandemic pushed this back to August 14 2021.
Arick Fudali, partner of a legal firm representing some of Epstein’s alleged victims, told BBC Radio 4 there was a “small chance” this case could go to trial, although “very few” do.
Jonny Dymond, the BBC’s royal correspondent, claimed Andrew’s team would see the new lawsuit as “a legal fishing expedition” and would do “everything they can to see that it goes no further.”
Who else is mentioned in the case?
The former billionaire financier was arrested in July 2019 by the FBI on charges of sex trafficking and conspiracy to engage in sex trafficking.
He pleaded not guilty to all charges and was found dead by suicide in his jail cell on August 10.
He was also convicted as a sex offender in 2008 and served 13 months in jail.
Epstein was known to socialise with former presidents including Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, alongside Andrew.
Maxwell, Epstein’s one-time girlfriend and closest friend, was also arrested last year – after a year in hiding – on charges she procured teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse.
Maxwell has denied all charges, and will stand trial in November.
What does this mean for Prince Andrew?
New York University law professor Melissa Murray told the BBC this could have a knock-on effect for the case against Andrew.
Murray explained: “With this civil suit pending and her about to go to trial on these criminal charges, there may be even more pressure – and indeed temptation – for her to cooperate with federal prosecutors and perhaps provide more information about all of the individuals who were in the orbit of Jeffrey Epstein, and that could, allegedly, include the prince himself.”
The FBI is investigating a potential international sex trafficking ring run by Epstein, although the disgraced financier died before his trial back in 2019.
Andrew has consistently denied any knowledge of Epstein’s crimes.
What happens next?
The civil case is not expected to go to trial, and Andrew is not at risk of imprisonment.
While Andrew does not enjoy the same diplomatic immunity as the Queen and her immediate household, forcing the Queen’s son to go to the US could trigger a diplomatic disaster.
He cannot be extradited for a civil case – unless it moves to a criminal case where the charge carries a prison sentence of 12 months or more – and cannot be forced to give evidence if he is not in the US.
Equally, if he travels to the US or US territories, he could be forced to give evidence.
However, it’s believed the case could go ahead in his absence, and if Andrew were found liable, he could pay compensation to Giuffre.
The case could also be settled beforehand or the complainant could cease the action or it could be struck out by a judge.
Former US Attorney General, Bill Barr, said in June 2019: “I don’t think it’s a question of handing him over. I think it’s a question of him providing evidence.”
His successor, Merrick Garland, has not publicly commented.