Prince Andrew is preparing to fight back against the possible disclosure this week of further damaging allegations about his friendship with paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and alleged accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell.
US District Judge Loretta Preska last week ordered the release of 80 secret legal documents, running to hundreds of pages, relating to Maxwell and Epstein.
The publication of the vast tranche of papers would be a blow for Maxwell, 58, as they feature large sections of testimony she gave to lawyers in 2016, including what her legal team said was ‘intrusive questioning’ about her sex life.
They could also heap pressure on Prince Andrew because one of the documents includes communications between Maxwell and Epstein from January 2015, when Virginia Roberts, an alleged sex slave of the shamed US financier, claimed in court papers that she was forced to have sex with the Prince on three occasions.
Andrew has repeatedly and strenuously denied the claims.
A leaked email from 2015 that was revealed last year by the BBC appears to suggest that Andrew asked for Maxwell’s help in dealing with Ms Roberts’s claims.
In it, he told the socialite: ‘Let me know when we can talk. Got some specific questions to ask you about Virginia Roberts.’ Maxwell replied: ‘Have some info. Call me when you have a moment.’
Last night, a source close to Andrew said: ‘The Duke of York has done nothing wrong, so we are relaxed about the unsealing of any court documents. As the US courts have been at pains to point out, just because an allegation is included in court papers does not make them true.
‘The US courts have urged the media and public to treat any allegations contained in court papers with extreme caution. We entirely concur. We have no doubt the Duke will be completely vindicated in the weeks ahead.’
Maxwell is being held in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Detention Center awaiting trial for recruiting and grooming some of Epstein’s underage victims between 1994 and 1997.
She is also accused of perjury for denying knowledge in legal depositions of his abuse. She denies all the allegations.
Maxwell was interviewed by lawyers in April and July 2016 as part of a defamation lawsuit brought by Ms Roberts, who now goes by her married surname Giuffre.
About 40 of 418 pages of that testimony were made public last year, but following last week’s ruling by Judge Preska in New York, further sections could be unsealed as early as Thursday. Maxwell’s lawyers were given a week to file an appeal.
Epstein was found dead in his New York prison cell last year while he was awaiting trial for sex offences.