Prince Andrew defies palace aides to keep faith in UK-based legal team

The Duke of York has been accused by Virginia Roberts Giuffre of sexually assaulting her when she was 17 – Lauren Hurley/PA Wire

The Duke of York will keep his embattled UK legal team despite pressure to remove them from some of his closest advisers, The Telegraph can reveal.

There has been growing unease in royal circles that the stonewalling tactics employed since he was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old have battered not only his reputation, but that of the monarchy.

The strategy has also allowed the high-profile American lawyers hired by his accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, to outwit him at every turn.

However, the Duke has pledged his loyalty to Gary Bloxsome, his London-based criminal defence solicitor, opting to ignore the advice of palace aides, friends and family.

A source close to the Duke told The Telegraph: “Irrespective of media reports, The Duke remains confident in his legal team and its strategy and is perfectly content to continue to follow their advice.”

It is understood that Mr Bloxsome will gradually hand the reins to Andrew Brettler, the Duke’s newly appointed, and highly experienced, US counsel, as the sexual assault claim moves forward in New York.

The Duke has pledged his loyalty to Gary Bloxsome, his London-based criminal defence solicitor

Mr Brettler, who is based in Los Angeles, is believed to have a different approach and has urged the team to engage with legal proceedings.

On Monday, Ms Giuffre lodged papers with the court confirming that the lawsuit had been served via Mr Brettler by both email and FedEx.

Judge Kaplan made clear last week that such a method of service was lawful, negating the need to abide by the Hague Convention.

It means the Duke now has 21 days to respond or face a default judgment.

Mr Bloxsome had been given until Friday to challenge the High Court’s decision to accept a request to notify him but will now not pursue it, the Telegraph understands.

Case slowly gathers pace in the US

As the focus of the case shifts towards the US, Mr Bloxsome and his colleagues from the Blackfords law firm will have no jurisdiction.

The shift in dynamic might be interpreted as tacit recognition that things have not been going to plan.

Mr Bloxsome is understood to have been confident that Ms Giuffre would drop her claim before it got to court, assuring the Duke that it would disappear and he could return to public duties as early as this summer.

While that did not happen, he does still believe that a 2009 agreement Ms Giuffre signed with Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted sex offender, will invalidate her claim. It is said to contain a clause in which she agreed not to pursue legal action against Epstein’s associates.

Mr Bloxsome, who could yet challenge jurisdiction, also remains convinced that multiple inconsistencies in Ms Giuffre’s account will prove her undoing.

She originally claimed that the Duke drank a cocktail, when he is teetotal, and alleged there were four encounters, when her writ details only three.

The Duke remains at Balmoral this week, having travelled up to the Queen’s Aberdeenshire estate earlier this month. It is understood that he decided to stick with original plans rather than return home early on the birth of his second grandchild, the daughter of Princess Beatrice.

Ms Giuffre claims she was forced to have sex with the Duke in London, at Epstein’s Manhattan townhouse and on his Caribbean island. The Duke has insisted he has “no recollection” of meeting her, despite apparent photographic evidence to the contrary.

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