Prince Andrew’s dream of returning to royal duties could come true, if top US lawyers succeed in getting Virginia Giuffre to retract her claims that she was forced to have sex with him by billionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Just under a year ago Prince handed over a substantial sum Ms Giuffre, reportedly in the region of £12m, in an out-of-court settlement to persuade her to drop her case against him.
He maintained that he had never met her and denied any wrongdoing, but controversy around the case meant he stepped back from royal life.
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Now, the Duke of York is reportedly "considering legal options", according to The Sun, and is said to be consulting US lawyers Andrew Brettler and Blair Berk in hope of forcing a retraction or even an apology.
It follows Ms Giuffre dropping her lawsuit in November 2022 against another man she claimed had sexually abused her – admitting that she “may have made a mistake” in accusing him.
Ms Giuffre claims she was held as virtual “sex slave” by Epstein and abused by him, his then-girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, and several of their high-powered friends including high-profile lawyer Alan Dershowitz,
In response Mr Dershowitz described her as a “complete, total liar".
After various legal wrangling the warring duo released a joint statement in which Ms Giuffre, who now lives in Australia, recognised she “may have made a mistake”.
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She said that she had "long believed" Epstein had trafficked her to Mr Dershowitz, but added that she was “very young at the time,” and living in “a very stressful and traumatic environment”.
In the wake of Mr. Dershowitz’s repeated denials, she said: "I now recognise I may have made a mistake in identifying Mr. Dershowitz. This litigation has been very stressful and burdensome for me and my family, and we believe it is time to bring it to an end and move on with our lives.”
That admission has given Prince Andrew new hope that he can dismiss the whiff of scandal that has dogged him since April 2015.
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A royal source told The Sun: “I can tell you with confidence that the Prince Andrew team is now considering legal options.”
The most damning piece of evidence is a photograph against Prince Andrew is apparently showing him with his arm around a young Ms Giuffre – then known as Virginia Roberts – in Ghislaine Maxwell’s flat.
Former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy told The Guardian that the image “has no innocent explanation, because there is no innocent reason for him to be hugging her, even in a social situation”.
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But in an upcoming Jeremy Kyle special due to be broadcast on TalkTV, showing new recordings of the disgraced socialite speaking from inside the New York prison where she is serving a 20-year sentence for sex trafficking, she brands the infamous picture a “fake”.
Prince Andrew has himself long disputed the authenticity of the photo, which was allegedly taken by Epstein in the evening on March 10, 2001
Maxwell has never named any of the men involved in Epstein’s grooming ring.
The Daily Star has contacted representatives of Prince Andrew for comment.
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