Prince Andrew is “bewildered” by claims he is not cooperating with the US investigation into the alleged sex trafficking of minors by British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and the late financier Jeffrey Epstein, according to his legal team.
The daughter of the late newspaper baron Robert Maxwell is believed to have introduced Andrew to Epstein – a convicted paedophile – and US authorities want to speak to the prince about their relationship.
Maxwell was arrested and charged by US authorities on Thursday after spending months living in seclusion.
Epstein committed suicide in jail while awaiting trial last year and Queen Elizabeth II’s second son quit his royal duties after he defended his relationship with him.
He has since faced claims from US prosecutors that he is running shy of giving his version of events.
“The duke’s team remains bewildered given that we have twice communicated with the DOJ in the last month and to date we have had no response,” an unnamed source on his legal team was quoted as saying by the Press Association news agency on Friday.
Also on Friday, UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said US authorities have not made an official approach to his government for permission to speak to Prince Andrew.
“Everybody’s sympathies are very much with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein but you wouldn’t expect me to comment on matters affecting the royal family,” he told LBC radio.
Asked what the response would be if US officials sought access to the prince for an interview, Johnson said: “No such approach has been made. It’s a matter for the royal family.
“The law must [be] carried out and the law must be observed,” he said.
‘Avoiding and evading’
Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Audrey Strauss told reporters on Thursday they would “welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us”.
“We would like to have the benefit of his statement,” she added.
A lawyer who represents some of Epstein’s alleged victims told the UK’s ITV broadcaster on Friday that the prince was “avoiding and evading” the US authorities.
“More excuses, more delays, it really is painful for many of the victims. It’s just not fair,” lawyer Gloria Allred told ITV.
Another lawyer representing the alleged victims said Andrew’s royal connections were helping him avoid facing justice.
“He has been hiding behind not only the royal family but his attorneys,” lawyer Spencer Coogan told BBC radio.
A US attorney for the Southern District of New York said last month that Andrew had “repeatedly declined our request to schedule” an interview.
The 60-year-old Duke of York denies claims he had sex with a 17-year-old procured by Epstein.
Pictures of him posing with his arm around the teen’s waist forced Andrew to give a TV interview to the BBC that was quickly followed by his standing down from all royal duties in November.