The Guardian-Marina Hyde
The prince has secured the services of a hardball US lawyer to deal with Virginia Giuffre’s claims of sexual assault
‘Virginia Roberts Giuffre alleges Andrew sexually assaulted her at Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan when she was 17.’ Photograph: Lindsey Parnaby/AFP/Getty Images
Before we get into it all, let me begin by saying nothing could ever make me question the immense dignity, sanctity and class of the US legal process. It’s really just the latest jewel in the royal family’s many, many crowns that the 95-year-old Queen’s son is now being represented by the guy also defending Armie Hammer over his whole cannibal-fetish-rape situation. Hammer denies all, but you probably know that.
And you certainly know most of the Andrew facts. He is accused in a US civil court by former Jeffrey Epstein sex slave Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who alleges that the prince sexually assaulted her at Epstein’s mansion in Manhattan and at other locations in 2001 when she was 17.
He denies all the accusations – and it’s been a long old road to get to even this point. But once Andrew had finally allowed lawyers to serve him the papers relating to this civil case, a certain change of pace was inevitable. I guess we all grow out of our family’s heritage law firms eventually, and want to make our own way in the world of more avant garde legal possibilities. At some point in recent months, the prince seems to have decided that the people who deal with the Queen’s dog licences and estates exemptions and so on aren’t the kind of hip-and-hardcore legal eagles more suited to his specific needs and aspirations. We all want to be our own person, you know? Even if that person is “61-year-old former chum of a known paedo whose mum is paying his legal bills”. The chum’s legal bills, not the paedo’s. Prince Andrew is simply accused of sex offences against a minor – accusations he has long denied.
So there is absolutely no suggestion that at some point Andrew finally tired of being in social seclusion in this deer park or on that grouse moor, and screamed: “Just get me what Armie Hammer’s having!” (Apart from anything else, that kind of order could lead to a quite grotesque misunderstanding.) But the fact is, HRH is now being represented by Hollywood power attorney Andrew Brettler. And the gloves are suddenly well and truly off.
How else to explain a new legal filing that teeters on the edge of victim blaming – and then plummets right into it, rolls around it, wallows deeply in it, and then finishes off by making snow angels in it? Lodged with the US district court in Manhattan last Friday, this 36-page motion begins by saying that Giuffre “may well” be a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of Epstein, in which case “nothing can excuse, nor fully capture the abhorrence and gravity of Epstein’s monstrous behavior against Giuffre”. Indeed, Andrew’s lawyers would like to proceed “without diminishing the harm suffered as a result of Epstein’s alleged misconduct”.
Alas, the filing then goes on to: accuse Giuffre of seeking “another payday” at the prince’s expense; claim she has “milk[ed] the publicity” of her association for years; reference a tabloid newspaper article in which nameless former associates brand her a “money-hungry sex kitten” and “head bitch”; break out a whole section supposedly dedicated to “Giuffre’s role in Epstein’s criminal enterprise”; claim she recruited and trafficked young girls for sexual abuse and did so in a way that was “wilful”; suggests her long-running pursuit of justice is diverting judicial time and resources from true victims of abuse; and more – so much more. Which all feels – let’s go out on a limb here – fairly diminishing. Anyone wondering vaguely whether Andrew’s reputation could be damaged any further now has their answer: yes, most definitely.
At first glance it might seem bizarre that the guy who inspired such outrage for completely failing to express sympathies for Epstein’s victims during his infamous Newsnight interview should be doubling down on that front. Indeed, that original glaring omission was followed by a friend of his materialising in the newspapers to insist that, while the prince didn’t regret the interview itself, “the fact he was unable to appropriately or sufficiently convey his sympathy for the victims of Epstein is of course a source of regret”.
Is it bollocks. There are two overriding impressions to be gleaned from this latest filing. One, that Prince Andrew has finally decided he’s in the dogfight of his life, and will now say absolutely anything to prevail in it. And two, that his total blindness to the silly little tragedies of Virginia Roberts Giuffre and all the silly little girls like her has lifted not one iota, despite everything that has happened. I don’t know about being biologically incapable of sweating, but on this evidence he certainly seems biologically incapable of having the first or faintest clue.
- Marina Hyde is a Guardian columnist