Entertainment Celebrity Prince Andrew won’t be protected by royal status over Jeffrey Epstein investigation

Prince Andrew won’t be protected by royal status over Jeffrey Epstein investigation

Sarah Ferguson Prince Andrew Royal Ascot
Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew spent June 21 at Royal Ascot, greeting the Queen together. Photo: Getty
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Prince Andrew won’t be protected legally by royal status in the event he is further implicated in the Jeffrey Epstein scandal over a worldwide child sex trafficking ring.

Six weeks after Epstein killed himself in a New York cell on August 10, the FBI has expanded its investigation to identify more of the late disgraced financier’s victims.

And that means the Duke of York, whose daughter Princess Beatrice is planning her wedding for next year, is at risk of being drawn further into the sex scandal.

The law enforcement agency expects to question up to 100 alleged trafficking victims before the end of the year, according to The Sunday Times.

Despite being a senior Windsor – he is the Queen’s third child – Andrew, 59, can be arrested without constitutional difficulty.

But members of the royal household can only be taken into custody under certain circumstances including that the case be a criminal one, not civil.

The duke has carried out only a handful of official engagements during the probe.

The Times reports most of the women were aged between 14 and 15 at the time they were allegedly trafficked.

“The US investigation is focusing on several potential victims in the hope that they can provide more details about Prince Andrew and his connection to the Epstein case,” according to sources from the US Department of Justice.

“They are not going to dismiss [claims relating to Andrew] because he is a royal.”

The question of whether royals could face court came up in January when Prince Philip was involved in a car accident near the monarch’s Norfolk estate, Sandringham.

“Dealing with someone from the royal family is only different in that you probably can’t pick up the phone to talk to them,” Norfolk’s former roads policing chief Chris Spinks said.

The Met dropped an investigation into Prince Andrew in 2015, when allegations by Epstein ‘sex slave’ Virginia Roberts Giuffre emerged.

Now 36 and living in Australia with her husband, Ms Giuffre has alleged she was forced to have sex with the “abuser” prince when she was 17 and said she would be prepared to testify against him in court.

jeffrey epstein accuser lives in Australia
Virginia Roberts Giuffre holding a photo of herself as a child. Photo: AAP

Hers are not the only claims being reviewed in relation to the royal by the FBI, according to reports.

It is now in the “public interest” for a police investigation to take place, said Dai Davies, former head of royal protection at Scotland Yard who was in charge of Andrew’s protection in the late 1990s.

“I would have thought it’s in Prince Andrew’s interests to clear this matter up,” Mr Davies said.

“Any residue of doubt or innuendo should be cleared up by a clear, unequivocal, structured investigation.”

Scotland Yard has been briefed on the FBI’s latest measures to pursue those linked to Epstein.

Its detectives “stand ready to assist their American counterparts,” according to the Times.

The UK-US extradition treaty of 2003 allows the US to demand extradition of UK citizens and other nationals for offences committed against US law.

A provision in the treaty removed the requirement on the US to provide prima facie evidence in extraditions from the UK. Only reasonable suspicion is required.

The Queen is immune to prosecution, but other members of her family can go to jail if they commit a crime.

There are a few loopholes.

Members of the royal household cannot be arrested in civil proceedings and cannot be cuffed in a monarch’s presence, according to legal encyclopaedia Halsbury’s Laws of England.

No arrest can take place in or near the palace.

Queen Princess Anne
The Queen with Princess Anne on her 69th birthday in August. Photo: Instagram 

In 2002 Princess Anne became the first senior member of the royal family to be convicted of a criminal offence after her bull terrier Dotty attacked two children.

A year earlier, she was fined for speeding.

Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied Ms Giuffre’s accusations against him, calling them “without foundation” and “false”.

In late August the Duke of York defended his friendship with Epstein and denied he had knowledge of his “criminal behaviour”.