Entertainment Celebrity Royal Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty. Could Prince Andrew be next?
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Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty. Could Prince Andrew be next?

Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew has always maintained his innocence. Photo: Florida Southern District Court
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It has been 16 years since police first questioned Jeffrey Epstein over allegations he had prostituted out a child.

Today, the financier’s “partner in crime” is in jail after being found guilty of trafficking girls for the pedophile to abuse.

Thursday’s verdict is another step towards justice for the victims who were targeted as early as the 1990s.

Now the spotlight shifts to the other people in Epstein’s inner circle.

What did they know? Did they take part in the abuse?

And if so, would Ghislaine Maxwell spill their secrets as she bargains against a maximum 65-year prison sentence?

Maxwell’s most prominent friend certainly seems to be feeling the pressure.

On Thursday, just hours before the guilty verdict was read out, Prince Andrew showed – again – he won’t be brought down without a fight. 

‘Others must be held accountable’

Maxwell was convicted of five of six federal charges, including sex trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and three related counts of conspiracy.

Epstein accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre welcomed the verdict and signalled that the public could expect to hear more details of offending by people close to the British socialite.

Ms Guiffre said she hoped “today is not the end but rather another step in justice being served”.

“Maxwell did not act alone,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Others must be held accountable. I have faith they will be.”

The same day, lawyers for the Duke of York were busy fighting to keep Ms Guiffre from suing the royal.

Filing for unspecified damages in a lawsuit in New York in August, Ms Giuffre had accused Andrew of sexually abusing her on three separate occasions in 2001 when she was 17.

Just hours before Maxwell was found guilty, the lawyer for the Queen’s second son called for the lawsuit to be thrown out because Ms Giuffre lives in Australia.

Attorney Andrew B Brettler argued that when Ms Giuffre filed in the US, she had an Australian driver’s licence and was living in Perth with her husband and three children.

Her ties to Colorado, where the now 38-year-old Ms Giuffre said she is a citizen, were argued to be “very limited”.

The news comes just days before a 2009 settlement between Ms Giuffre and Epstein will be made public.

Mr Brettler believes the agreement absolves Prince Andrew of any liability.

All eyes on the Prince

Prince Andrew has never shied away from the fact that he considered Maxwell a friend.

Will that change now the “friend” is also a convicted criminal?

In March, Maxwell’s brother Ian said in a BBC radio interview that his sister still thinks of Andrew as her friend.

“I don’t know. I would assume that she does, yes,” he answered.

Among pictures circulated of Andrew and Maxwell is the now-infamous image of him with his arm around a then-underage Ms Guiffre.

It was apparently taken in Maxwell’s home in the affluent neighbourhood of Belgravia, London.

Maxwell is pictured in the background.

When presented with the widely circulated photo during in an interview in which he declared his innocence, Andrew suggested to the BBC interviewer that the photo could have been edited.

Prince Andrew
Prince Andrew has suggested the photo is fake. Photo: Florida Southern District Court

Unnamed friends of the royal told the UK’s Evening Standard and The Daily Telegraph that the photo had to be fake because Andrew’s fingers are “chubby” in real life, as opposed to the slender fingers in the photo.

Days after a “car crash” interview, Prince Andrew stepped down from his royal duties for the “foreseeable future”.

What does Maxwell know?

The Prince said during the November 2019 interview that the last time he had contact with Maxwell – whom he said he had known since university – was earlier that year.

But when it was pointed out that Epstein was charged in July 2019, Andrew insisted they had spoken even earlier than that and did not discuss Epstein.

Laura Goldman, Maxwell’s friend, said in an interview that Maxwell would never speak out about Andrew’s relationship with Epstein.

“She’s always told me that she would never ever say anything about him. I think she felt that he was her friend and she was never ever going to say anything about him,” Ms Goldman said.

“She really felt that in the ’90s when her father died that Prince Andrew was there for her, in many ways.”

Maxwell was not required to answer questions about Prince Andrew during her trial.

His accuser, Ms Guiffre, was also not called to give evidence.

But the royals were brought into the trial through a photograph prosecutors submitted to show the closeness of the relationship between Epstein and Maxwell.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell at Balmoral, the Queen’s private residence in Scotland. Photo: US Attorney’s Office

The BBC reported the photograph was thought to have been taken in 1999 when Prince Andrew invited the couple to the Queen’s private residence in Scotland.

When asked about the time he invited Epstein to Windsor Castle and the Queen’s Sandringham estate in 2000, Andrew has said Epstein was only invited because of his “girlfriend”.

“Remember that it was his girlfriend that was the key element in this. He was the, as it were, plus one, to some extent in that aspect,” Prince Andrew said during a TV interview.

Prince Andrew said he met Jeffrey Epstein through his girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell. Photo: Getty

Evidence produced by prosecutors taking action against Maxwell did link the grooming or transport of girls to London and to a plane that Andrew had flown on.

The prince has previously confirmed that he hosted a shooting weekend for Epstein, had been on his private plane, in his home in Palm Beach, Florida, on his private island and inside Maxwell’s Belgravia home.

But the only significant time he was connected to the case in the latest court hearings was when a witness said Epstein and Maxwell would “name drop” their royal connection.

Investigators in the UK and the US will now be hoping they can convince Maxwell to drop more names.