Prince Andrew last night signalled he would speak to FBI detectives investigating billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein as the duke readied himself for a subpoena from US lawyers demanding he gives evidence under oath.
In his statement announcing he was stepping aside from public duties, the prince said he was ‘willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency… if required’.
Andrew’s offer to co-operate with the authorities was welcomed by lawyers representing Epstein’s victims, but they questioned why he would only do so ‘if required’.
Buckingham Palace is ‘braced’ for the ‘imminent’ arrival of a subpoena summoning Andrew to give evidence under oath in the US, according to the Telegraph.
And a diplomatic row could be brewing if the duke refuses to fly to the US to meet the FBI, with agents able to request an interview in London – but only if he agrees to it.
American prosecutors view him as a key witness who could help them catch Epstein’s co-conspirators – not as a suspect despite claims by trafficking victim Virginia Roberts that they had sex three times when she was 17.
Prince Andrew last night signalled he would speak to FBI detectives investigating billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein (the pair are pictured together right) – and victims’ lawyers are ready to subpoena him
Victims’ lawyers called on Andrew and his bodyguards to give ‘in-depth interviews’ to the FBI revealing everything they knew about Epstein.
The Mirror claims that the duke may have been filmed on secret cameras installed by the paedophile as an ‘insurance policy’ against his rich and powerful friends and the footage could be in the hands of the authorities.
The whereabouts of Epstein’s alleged ‘pimp’ Ghislaine Maxwell is currently unknown but she is said to be ‘loyal’ to Andrew, who she saw earlier this year, and would reportedly refuse to ‘dish the dirt’ on him to the FBI, according to The Sun.
Can the FBI force Andrew to speak to them about Epstein?
Prince Andrew is being urged to speak to the FBI about his dealings with Jeffrey Epstein by flying to the US.
If he refuses Buckingham Palace is braced for the Duke of York to be issued with a subpoena to give evidence in the US.
Andrew is viewed as a key witness to Epstein’s crimes despite the royal denying he ever witnessed anything untoward.
Since Epstein’s death the FBI probe has moved on to those who aided him in his sex crimes.
Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of Robert Maxwell, is under suspicion of helping him find girls but she has denied any wrongdoing and has never been arrested.
If Andrew refuses to set foot in America the FBI has the power to request an interview in London – but he would have to agree to it first.
Any attempt to force the issue would lead to a diplomatic row – and probably a legal battle into whether the duke has immunity, something he and the palace would be keen to avoid.
Lawyers for Epstein’s victims say they are willing to subpoena him but serving any foreigner, let alone a closely protected royal, with the documents is notoriously difficult.
The prince was criticised for saying during his disastrous BBC Newsnight interview on Saturday night that he would testify under oath ‘if push came to shove’.
Lisa Bloom, who represents five victims of Epstein, last night described the prince’s latest comments as ‘a good first step’ but called on him to volunteer information.
‘Prince Andrew should fully co-operate in all legal investigations, which means that he should sit down for in-depth interviews with the FBI and lawyers for the women, and require his staff to do so as well,’ she said.
‘He should turn over all documents, such as calendars, journals, emails, texts and flight logs. The public stands with Epstein’s victims and companies and organisations are distancing themselves from Prince Andrew.
‘The victims and I appreciate this meaningful public support.’
She added: ‘If he truly does regret his time with Jeffrey Epstein, now is the time to make it right by being fully accountable to the many victims demanding justice.’
Ms Bloom said that if the Queen’s son refused to fly over to the States to answer questions, it could lead to a ‘diplomatic situation’ between the UK and US.
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘I, as an attorney, have the right to subpoena witnesses to come and take depositions.
‘It’s not going to be easy to subpoena someone like Prince Andrew, he’s obviously not walking down the street where a process server can just hand him a piece of paper, it’s a lot more complicated.
‘If he refused to come we may have a diplomatic situation between [the UK] and [the US]. I hope it doesn’t come to that.
‘I take him at his word that he says he is going to co-operate and I hope that’s what’s going to happen.’
When asked if FBI agents could be forced to jet to the UK to interview him, Ms Bloom said: ‘They certainly could and should’.
Pictured, left: Andrew leaves Buckingham Palace after spending the afternoon there behind a desk on Tuesday – the first time he had been seen since his BBC interview. Pictured, right: The Queen puts a brave face on this afternoon as she meets Sir David Attenborough to present him with an award
Gloria Allred, who also represents several Epstein victims, called on Andrew to volunteer himself for questioning in New York. ‘I am glad that he is willing to speak to law enforcement, although I am not sure what he means by ‘if required’,’ she said. ‘Is he insisting that he be served with a subpoena to testify or is he willing to speak to law enforcement without being legally required to do so?
‘My clients who are victims of Jeffrey Epstein have spoken to law enforcement without being ‘required’ to do so. I urge Prince Andrew to contact the investigators for the US Attorneys’ Office for the Southern District of New York and volunteer to be interviewed by them.’
Earlier this week, French prosecutors renewed their appeal for both witnesses and victims to co-operate, with an investigative source calling on Prince Andrew to appear for questioning.
The Duke of York was said to be a regular guest at Epstein’s residence in the French capital. The source said: He [Andrew] has yet to discuss details of his visits in public. It is very important that all those who had relations with Epstein in Paris speak to prosecutors and judicial police, and Prince Andrew is one of them. He clearly has a lot to say. We need to get to the truth.’
In 2015, Scotland Yard rejected calls for a full investigation into Epstein’s activities in the UK.