UK authorities shielded Prince Andrew from Epstein investigation
Britain rules, in principle, that royalty remains above law.
A new book written by terminated US lawyer Geoffrey Berman reveals that British authorities have protected Prince Andrew, who has been accused of sexual assault, from being investigated for his relationship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Read next: Andrew's latest scandal: Dispute with ex-wife, Turkish woman and businessman
In June 2020, Berman was fired as US attorney for the southern district of New York (SDNY), which prompted him to write his book, titled Holding the Line: Inside the Nation's Preeminent US Attorney's Office and its Battle with the Trump Justice Department.
Before participating in the mourning events of the late Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Andrew has rarely been seen in public, especially after Virginia Giuffre accused Andrew of sexually assaulting her when she was a minor.
Read more: Epstein victim Giuffre wins settlement against Prince Andrew
According to Berman, SDNY prosecutors were adamant about speaking to Andrew about his relationship with Epstein and former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, who has recently been sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Andrew “stated publicly that he would co-operate with the investigation, and we intended to give him a chance to make good on his word”, according to Berman. However, this was far from reality.
Berman's team tried to contact Andrew and his connections in November 2019: Two New York prosecutors "spent about two weeks just trying to find out who his lawyers were”, to no avail. The justice and state departments were not helpful, and neither were his lawyers when they finally got to them.
In a comment to reporters in January 2020, Berman said that the prince provided "zero cooperation" - which, coincidentally, triggered the lawyers to contact again. However, no interview went through.
Losing his bid to organize an investigation, SDNY then used an M-LAT, or "mutual legal assistance treaty" request, which he said had also worked before, but in the case of Prince Andrew, it did not bear fruit.
“But that was not what happened with Prince Andrew,” he writes. “We got absolutely nowhere. Were they protecting him? I presume someone was.”
Upon being accused of 'publicity,' the SDNY asserted that they weren't interested in a written statement from Andrew: “That’s not how we do investigations, even for British royals”.
As for the SDNY's motive for firing Berman, the latter wrote in his book that the US attorney general at the time, William Barr, saw Epstein's case as a useful pawn in the political game with London.
“Barr told me that the public rift over Prince Andrew’s refusal to sit for an interview was useful in this other case,” Berman writes. “It inflicted PR damage, was my impression, and made it more palatable for the administration to hold firm.”
Berman says this approach “seemed questionable to me, but it did not affect our approach with Prince Andrew. I still wanted to interview him but it had nothing to do with Barr’s agenda.”
Last year, Virginia Giuffre filed a lawsuit against the British royal figure, accusing him of sexually abusing her when she was 17 through a trafficking scandal involving Jeffrey Epstein. Prince Andrew, however, repeatedly denied any involvement in the accusation.
In February, he came to terms with the abuse and agreed to testify.
However, in the settlement that was reached later, the prince said that he regretted his relationship with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who supposedly "killed himself" in prison, in 2019.
Read more: Epstein: "I Have No Interest in Killing Myself," New Document Reveals