Prince Andrew’s estimated $10 million lawsuit settlement is “too late” to save his reputation—but will help Queen Elizabeth II in her platinum jubilee year, a lawyer has told Newsweek.
The Duke of York will pay out rather than give sworn testimony on sexual abuse allegations made by Virginia Giuffre, a Jeffrey Epstein trafficking victim.
Giuffre said she was 17 when she was trafficked by the New York financier and Ghislaine Maxwell to London in 2001, to have sex with Queen Elizabeth II’s second son.
The bombshell court claim detailed how she was also forced into sexual encounters with the duke in New York and on Epstein’s private island, Little St James.
The duke has always denied Giuffre’s allegations but opted to settle instead of giving evidence in court.
Amber Melville-Brown, of international law firm Withers, told Newsweek: “This settlement is worth its weight in gold to Her Majesty the Queen as she celebrates her platinum jubilee this year—but it comes too late to remedy Prince Andrew‘s reputation, tarnished beyond repair as a result of this disastrous litigation and his attempts to avoid it.”
The queen marked 70 years on the throne on February 6, the anniversary of her father King George VI’s death in 1952.
The day before, she released a statement on the future of the monarchy, clarifying after years of debate that Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will be known as Queen Consort, that the crown will not skip a generation to Prince William and that she will not retire early.
Andrew’s court settlement also removes a cloud hanging over the royal family, which threatened to overshadow the jubilee celebrations.
A joint statement disclosed in a court filing read: “Prince Andrew intends to make a substantial donation to Ms. Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights.
“Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character, and he accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks.”
It added: “He pledges to demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting the fight against the evils of sex trafficking, and by supporting its victims.”
However, the prince’s words were met with derision on several grounds, with U.K. lawmaker Jess Philips accusing the duke of “victim blaming.”
She suggested that victims would not want Andrew’s support and questioned the notion he “never intended to malign Ms. Giuffre’s character.”
The Labour Party politician wrote on Twitter: “The manner in which he and his legal team took on the dismissal of the case was victim blaming, deplorable and showed little regard for any child victim of historic abuse. Why on earth does he think he can help or that people would want his help.”
Lisa Bloom, lawyer for eight Epstein victims, echoed the sentiment when she posted on Twitter: “‘Prince Andrew never intended to malign her character’—oh please, he allowed his attorneys to file an official answer asserting the ‘unclean hands’ defense, that her bad behavior exonerated him even if he abused her.”
In January, Andrew’s legal team filed an answer to the claim that read: “Giuffre’s alleged causes of action are barred in whole or in part by her own wrongful conduct and the doctrine of unclean hands.”
It added that any damage Giuffre experienced was “contributed in whole or in part” by “others”—presumably Epstein and Maxwell.
This came after the prince’s team had attempted to paint Giuffre as money grabbing in late 2021. One filing included a news story that described his accuser as a “money-hungry sex kitten.”
Barry Salzman, who represented 20 of Epstein’s victims, said Andrew would have paid a premium in the settlement agreement because Judge Lewis Kaplan had rejected his efforts to get the case thrown out in January.
Salzman, a partner at law firm Barasch McGarry Salzman & Penson, told Newsweek: “I’m sure there was a part of her that wanted to go to trial and show the world he abused her and lied about it.
“However, there are no guarantees at trial. Juries are very unpredictable. Litigation, including the discovery process, trial preparation and trial can be protracted, emotionally draining and traumatic for a sexual abuse survivor like Ms. Giuffre.
“For the reasons I stated above, I believe this settlement is a huge win for her and other sexual abuse survivors.”
Melville-Brown said: “It’s often the case that ‘Sorry seems to be the hardest word’ in a settlement agreement—but this was likely as close to an apology as Prince Andrew was able to offer consistent with a denial of liability.
“With diametrically opposed positions, finding a route to settlement may appear impossible.
“But Andrew’s expression of public regret for his former association with Epstein has served as the portal through which this has been achieved, allowing him to accept the harm done to Ms Giuffre, offer an acknowledgement that he did not intend to malign her character, and pledge to support other victims.”
Update 02/16/22, 10:30 a.m. ET: This article was updated to add comments from Barry Salzman.