US prosecutors have revealed that Prince Andrew has provided “zero” cooperation with the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking inquiry, despite publicly promising to help investigations in any way possible.
Geoffrey Berman, US attorney for the southern district of New York, said that the prince had not yet agreed to provide an interview after being contacted.
When the prince stepped back from royal duties following a disastrous interview with BBC Newsnight in which he claimed he doesn’t sweat and launched thousands of memes by saying he'd been in Pizza Express.
What happens now?
Federal prosecutors in New York, along with the FBI, were hoping to interview Andrew as they probe into Epstein’s potential co-conspirators. Buckingham Palace said it would not be commenting and that the matter is being dealt with by Prince Andrew’s legal team.
Why is this important?
Epstein was arrested in July 2019 and charged with sex trafficking girls as young as 14. He had previously been sent to prison for sex offences, and the prince’s continued association with him after that point has become been heavily criticised. Epstein was found dead in a jail cell in August 2019, with the medical examiner ruling his death to be suicide.
Any further information about him could be crucial in achieving justice and closure for his alleged victims. One of Epstein’s accusers, Virginia Giuffre, said she was instructed to have sex with Andrew in 2001, when she was 17 years old. He said he has “no recollection” of meeting her and strongly denied having sex with her. Prince Andrew has denied having any knowledge of Epstein sexually abusing teen girls.
Will the prince be forced to co-operate?
It is reported that there will be no attempt to force Andrew to testify, leaving open the possibility that he will never answer prosecutors’ questions.
During his Newsnight interview he said he was prepared to give testimony under oath “if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so”. Andrew was clear that he hadn’t seen any suspicious behaviour whenever he spent time with Epstein.
Can members of the Royal Family be arrested?
The Queen is immune from arrest in all cases. No arrest can be made "in the monarch's presence", or within the "verges" of a royal palace.
Does prince Andrew, or do other members of the Royal Family, have diplomatic immunity?
No. Only the Queen is entitled to sovereign immunity. Bob Morris, a constitutional law professor at UCL, said in November:
[Sovereign immunity] is a concept devised to protect the position of heads of state, but heads of state only, not the members of their family in their function as head of state. And you can't have more than one head of the state.
H/T: The Guardian