Prince Andrew’s representatives insist they had been given an “unequivocal assurance” the process would “remain confidential”.
Federal prosecutors in the United States have issued a formal request to Prince Andrew for an interview as part of their investigation into the now deceased convicted sex offender Jeffery Epstein, prompting a frustrated response from the Duke of York’s legal team.
Officials in New York have made the request to Prince Andrew through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, a system that makes it similar to a subpoena for the Duke to provide testimony.
This comes after the Queen gave permission for Prince Andrew to step back from his public duties late last year.
Those behind the request have said that the decision to use the treaty, which is rarely put into action, which is designed to make sure the inquiry into the disgraced billionaire’s history of sexual abuse is as accurate as possible.
Prince Andrew’s legal issued a statement where the team responded by calling this request “disappointing” and claimed the Duke of York had already on three occasions previously offered his assistance to the US Department of Justice (DOJ).
“Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that
the duke has offered zero cooperation.”
“In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance.”
“We were given an unequivocal assurance that our discussions and the interview process would remain confidential.”
It comes after the US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in March that he would consider legal action, due to the duke’s representatives had ruled out an interview, he claimed. He went on to say:
“Contrary to Prince Andrew’s very public offer to cooperate with our investigation into Epstein’s co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary co-operation,”
Continuing by saying that his office was “considering its options”.
Investigators with the FBI have been trying to speak with Prince Andrew for months, as the Duke was known to be a longtime friend of Epstein’s and has been accused by one woman of sexual assault.
Andrew and Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein’s former girlfriend, have both previously denied any knowledge that Epstein was sexually abusing underage girls.
Officials ruled that Epstein, 66, committed suicide by hanging himself in August while in prison, awaiting trial on multiple sex-crime charges, including sex-trafficking.
Prosecutors accused the well-connected billionaire financier and sex offender of preying on dozens of underage girls in throughout the US in the early 2000s.
A lawyer who is representing five of Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged victims has previously said that Prince Andrew’s failure to co-operate with the federal prosecutors to date had been a “slap in the face” for those women who were abused at the hands of Epstein.