Prince Andrew's court case threatens to overshadow Queen's Jubilee celebrations

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Prince Andrew's court case threatens to overshadow Queen's Jubilee celebrations

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year faces being overshadowed by the sexual assault court case against the Duke of York, as a US court set a date for sworn evidence to be submitted the month after the celebrations.

A judge in America ruled that depositions in the civil case against the Duke must be completed by July 14, after the Jubilee celebrations across the first bank holiday weekend of June. The date dashes any hopes that the Duke may have cleared his name and returned to public duties alongside his family by then.

The Platinum Jubilee celebrations are the star event in the 2022 royal calendar, designed to commemorate the Queen’s contribution to national life with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren by her side.

Court papers released on Monday night showed district judge Lewis Kaplan, who serves in the Southern District of New York, ruling that the depositions must be completed on or before July 14.

Prince Andrew will be asked to testify under oath, although a source said this could be done outside the court in a private hearing with a solicitor in the UK. Both the Duke and his accuser, Virginia Giuffre, will be expected to answer questions.

He vehemently denies allegations that he sexually assaulted Ms Giuffre when she was a teenager. She is seeking unspecified damages from the 61-year-old, whose lawyer has dismissed the accusations as “baseless”.

Prince Andrew's court case threatens to overshadow Queen's Jubilee celebrations

Prince Andrew's sexual assault case could interfere with the Queen's Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Photo / Getty Images

In the scheduling order, signed by lawyers for both parties, the judge also ruled that a pre-trial order, which sets out the course of the case, is due by July 28. No additional parties are allowed to join the case after December 15.

Giuffre claims she was trafficked by the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.

The Duke has not been charged with any crime, and earlier this month the Metropolitan Police said it was taking no action over Ms Giuffre’s claims.

In a Newsnight interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis in November 2019, Prince Andrew denied claims that he slept with Ms Giuffre on three separate occasions and said: “I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady – none whatsoever.”

Sexual harm – Where to get help
If it’s an emergency and you feel that you or someone else is at risk, call 111.
If you’ve ever experienced sexual assault or abuse and need to talk to someone, contact Safe to Talk confidentially, any time 24/7:
• Call 0800 044 334
• Text 4334
• Email support@safetotalk.nz
• For more info or to web chat visit safetotalk.nz
Alternatively contact your local police station – click here for a list.
If you have been sexually assaulted, remember it’s not your fault.

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