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Prince Andrew goes for spin US judge halts unsealing of Ghislaine Maxwell legal papers

Prince Andrew has broken cover as Ghislaine Maxwell made an 11th-hour bid to prevent documents laying bare her relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and the sex lives of her rich and powerful friends being published today.

The Duke of York was in his Bentley with his bodyguard as he drove out of the gates of Windsor Castle this morning where he has been keeping a low profile at his lodge in the grounds of his mother the Queen’s estate.

His rare public appearance came amid more legal drama in the US involving his friend Ghislaine Maxwell, who is in a New York jail accused of helping groom girls for abuse by Epstein.

Maxwell has made a last minute challenge to prevent documents laying bare her personal relationship with the billionaire paedophile being made public arguing they could expose ‘intrusive’ details about her own sex life. 

They were due to be unsealed today – but this has been delayed until Monday pending the result of her application to the Second Circuit Court in New York. 

The papers will include depositions from Ghislaine Maxwell which could explain her alleged role in Epstein’s sex trafficking operation. They are also expected to shed light on the powerful men accused of having sex with his victims.

They relate to evidence Maxwell gave as part of a now-settled civil defamation lawsuit filed against her in 2015 by Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts, who also claims to have had sex with Prince Andrew three times when she was 17 in 2001.

Judge Loretta Preska last week ordered the unsealing of a vast tranche of documents relating to the billionaire paedophile today – Maxwell wants to block the bombshell court documents emerging.

Meanwhile Prince Andrew is involved in a war of words with the US authorities over whether he will assist their inquiries into the sex crimes of his paedophile friend Jeffrey Epstein, who hanged himself in a New York jail cell last summer. 

Ms Maxwell was arrested on July 2 after a raid on her remote mansion in New Hampshire and is being held at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn after being charged with child sex trafficking and perjury. 

Epstein’s ‘sex slave’ Virginia Roberts claimed she was trafficked by Epstein and Maxwell to have sex with Andrew three times when she was 17. 

US Attorney General Bill Barr said earlier this year that Andrew must speak to the FBI and his team ‘definitely’ want to interview him.

He said: ‘The department wants to talk to Prince Andrew. That’s why the Southern District has been making efforts to communicate with him. We’ve made it clear that we’d like to communicate with him’.

A source close to Prince Andrew previously told that he was ‘bewildered’ by the ongoing claims that he wasn’t cooperating, and says his team tried to reach prosecutors several times.   

Speaking to ABC News Mr Barr said the government had Maxwell’s security ‘locked up’ to ensure she would neither be able to kill herself or be harmed, Barr answered firmly: ‘Yes. We have asked them to tell us specifically the protocols they’re following and we have a number of redundant systems to monitor the situation.’ 

He added that he was ‘livid’ when Epstein killed himself and that he wanted to see him brought to justice. 

‘I was livid obviously. I believed very strongly in that case and I was very proud of the work done by the department, the Southern District on that case, and as you recall, after he committed suicide, I said that I was confident that we would continue to pursue this case vigorously and continue to pursue anyone who was complicit in it. I was very happy we were able to get Ms Maxwell,’ he said. 

Prince Andrew has seen his legal team ‘ghosted’ by US prosecutors as they claim to have made repeated offers of help in the Jeffrey Epstein case.

Sources close to the Duke of York’s legal team say they have contacted Department of Justice representatives in the US on a number of occasions since they were first contacted at the beginning of the year.

Andrew, 60, whose close friend Ghislaine Maxwell has been arrested and accused of assisting Epstein’s abuse of minors by helping to recruit and groom underage victims, was described as ‘bewildered’ by the US prosecutors claims of non co-operation.

The informed source said they had been in touch with the DOJ once Geoffrey Berman was replaced as US attorney for the Southern District of New York by Audrey Strauss. 

Ms Strauss was appointed on June 22 after Mr Berman was ‘fired’ by Donald Trump.

The initial contact was made at the turn of the year when the DOJ confirmed that the Duke of York was being represented by legal firm Blackfords.

Once contact had been established, the Duke’s team offered co-operation and asked for a framework as to how the US wished to proceed, but there was no reply. The source said his team feel they have ‘effectively been ghosted.’ 

Judge Preska said that 80 documents due to be unsealed in the US – run to hundreds of pages.

They will also include communications between Maxwell and Epstein from January 2015 when Virginia Roberts made explosive allegations about them in court papers.

In the papers Roberts claimed that she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew three times when she was 17 at Epstein’s command. The Duke of York strenuously denies these charges.

The case is separate from the current criminal proceedings against Maxwell, 58, who is accused of procuring girls as young as 14 for Epstein to abuse.

The British socialite, who is the daughter of disgraced newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, has pleaded not guilty and is due to stand trial next year.

The case that was ruled on last night was originally brought by Miss Roberts, now a 36-year-old mother of three who lives in Australia and goes by her married name Virginia Giuffre.

She sued Maxwell in 2015 and claimed that she defamed her by calling her a liar for saying she recruited her nto a sex trafficking ring for ‘politically connected and financially powerful people’.

The case was settled in 2017 for an undisclosed sum but media organizations sued for documents in the case to be made public.

During the hearing at Manhattan’s federal court, Judge Preska said that Maxwell’s right to privacy was outweighed by the need for the documents to become public.

She went through the dozens of documents which included depositions by Miss Roberts and various legal papers.

The contents however could be explosive and may contain fresh evidence against the wealthy elite who socialised with Epstein.

The documents could include details about Maxwell’s sex life which her lawyers have previously tried to stop being released.

They relate to a seven-hour, 418-page deposition Maxwell gave which her lawyers said was ‘extremely personal, confidential’.

Maxwell’s lawyers have called the deposition a ‘series of (efforts) to compel Ms Maxwell to answer intrusive questions about her sex life’.

After the ruling Maxwell’s lawyer Laura Menninger asked for a two week delay in the unsealing so that they could file an appeal against the ruling with the Second Circuit in New York.

Miss Menninger said: ‘There have been some significant changes with respect to my client’s positions and perhaps known to everyone listening to this, while we were speaking about a potential ongoing criminal investigation (before), since that time Miss Maxwell has been indicted and a trial has been scheduled.

‘Now we are in a vastly different position and have grave concerns about our clients ability to receive a fair trial given the intense media scrutiny around anything that is unsealed.’

Miss Roberts’ lawyer Sigrid McCawley said she wanted the documents made public ‘as swiftly as possible’.

Judge Preska said that if the Second Circuit had not ruled within a week then the files should be made public.

The lawsuit to release the documents was originally filed by Miami Herald and their reporter Julie Brown, whose series on Epstein called ‘Perversion of Justice’ in 2018 put renewed focus on the case and led to his arrest last July.

As a result there are thousands of pages of documents which are being released on a rolling basis.

Each time a person’s name comes up they are notified and given the chance to make objections to their name becoming public.

There were two John Does in this latest batch but they did not make any complaints when approached, according to court filings.

The Second Circuit had already ordered 2,000 pages of documents to be made public and they were released last August, the day before Epstein killed himself.

The documents included the unpublished manuscript of a memoir from Miss Roberts which detailed her years of abuse by him.

There were depositions from Epstein’s pilots, his former associates and flight logs showing him traveling the globe with his victims and famous people like Bill Clinton.

Among those who have taken an interest in the defamation case are lawyers for a ‘John Doe’ who appears to be somebody who will be featured in the documents.

On the same day Maxwell was dealt another blow when the judge overseeing her criminal case refused her request to gag the FBI, prosecutors and victims lawyers.

Judge Alison Nathan said that Maxwell could still get a fair trial but warned she would ‘not hesitate to take appropriate action’ if anyone stepped out of line.

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