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.
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.
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✈️ Yesterday, The Duke of York opened Air Pilots House. Established at Guild in 1929, the Honourable Company of Air Pilots aims to ensure that aircrafts are piloted and navigated safely. The opening of the new Air Pilot House will enable the company to continue their charitable work, education and training. In 2014, The Duke of Edinburgh, Patron, presented the company their Royal Charter after Her Majesty The Queen granted it with an ‘Honourable’ status.
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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.”
“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.
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.
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”.