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Princess Beatrice spared being dragged into Prince Andrew sexual abuse case

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 4 days ago Victoria Ward
Princess Beatrice (L) has privately supported her father, Prince Andrew (R) - FD/Newspix international © FD/Newspix international Princess Beatrice (L) has privately supported her father, Prince Andrew (R) - FD/Newspix international

Princess Beatrice was on Friday night spared being formally dragged into her father’s sexual abuse case.

Sources close to the family had been braced for the 33-year-old to be called as a key witness, after the Duke of York alleged that he was with his daughter at a Pizza Express in Woking on the night at the centre of the claims against him.

However, in a surprise move, lawyers for the Duke’s accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, on Friday night revealed that they only plan to seek depositions from two British witnesses; Robert Olney, the Duke’s former equerry, and Shukri Walker, who claims to have seen the Duke at Tramp nightclub in London on the night he is alleged to have forced Ms Giuffre to have sex with him.

Mr Olney is thought to have information about the Duke’s relationship with Jeffrey Epstein as his name appeared in the convicted paedophile’s “little black book,” court documents reveal.

The disclosure came just a day after the Queen stripped her second son of all military titles and patronages. He can also no longer use the style of His Royal Highness in any official capacity.

Prince Andrew's daughters are said to be shaken by their father's case - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP © Provided by The Telegraph Prince Andrew's daughters are said to be shaken by their father's case - JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP

The Duke’s attempt to have the case dismissed on a technicality was thwarted by a New York judge this week, leaving him facing a civil trial by jury.

Ms Giuffre, 38, who claims she was forced to have sex with the Duke on three separate occasions when she was 17, insisted that he “must be held accountable” for his actions as she welcomed the court ruling and the chance to “expose the truth”.

The Duke has denied all her claims.

The prospect of his closest family members having to face questioning from Ms Giuffre’s formidable legal team had been an uncomfortable one for the Duke.

He was thought to have breathed a sigh of relief on Friday night after learning that neither his ex-wife, the Duchess of York, nor Princess Beatrice, both of whom he mentioned in his 2019 Newsnight interview, would have to give evidence.

David Boies, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, had previously indicated that those he would seek to question would be “close to Andrew” and “might include his ex-wife” and could even include his brother, the Prince of Wales.

Sarah, Duchess of York, has been one of Prince Andrew’s lone defenders in recent years, repeatedly voicing her loyalty and respect for him in public.

Sarah Ferguson - Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images © Provided by The Telegraph Sarah Ferguson - Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images

Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, while both shaken by the case, have also privately supported their father.

It was widely expected that they would be asked to corroborate the Duke’s Pizza Express alibi, as well as his claim that he could not sweat, both made in the Newsnight interview in 2019. 

However, there have been claims that Princess Beatrice has “absolutely no recollection” of the Pizza Express occasion.

Meanwhile, both sides have agreed a draft protective order outlining which documents and sensitive information obtained in the discovery process will remain secret. 

They include medical records, phone numbers, tax returns, banking information and the names of alleged underage victims of sexual abuse. Portions of deposition transcripts can also be designated confidential.

A source close to the Duke has insisted that he would “continue to defend himself” against the allegations, describing the process as “a marathon, not a sprint”. However, the legal situation is understood to remain “fluid” and the option of a hefty financial settlement remains on the table.

Prince Andrew - Kelvin Bruce © Provided by The Telegraph Prince Andrew - Kelvin Bruce

Crisis talks have begun in earnest to determine the specific terms of a potential deal, which the Duke would want to be signed off before his deposition, tentatively scheduled for next month.

Mr Boies has indicated that a public apology would have to form the plank of any agreement, but for the Duke, who has denied the claims, any acceptance of liability is off the table.

Although he is now defending the case as a “private citizen”, the monarch would have to sanction such a significant legal move. 


Video: U.S. judge to decide fate of Prince Andrew sex abuse case (The Independent)

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A public statement would likely point to the global publicity the case had generated and the ensuing negative effect on the institution.

Who is Robert Olney?

Mr Olney, the Duke's former equerry, will be called to give evidence in his sexual abuse case, it emerged last night.

Lawyers for Ms Giuffre, also plan to question Shukri Walker, who claims to have seen the Duke in Tramp nightclub in London on the night he is alleged to have forced Ms Giuffre to have sex with him.

“Because Prince Andrew has denied ever meeting plaintiff or being at Tramp Nightclub during the relevant time period, Ms Walker’s testimony is highly relevant,” they wrote in court documents.

A formal request to interview the two British witnesses has been made via letters rogatory, the method of requesting assistance between countries during legal proceedings.

New York federal court judge Lewis Kaplan will now formally ask British authorities for assistance in obtaining their testimony.

An online profile for Mr Olney, from Marlow, Bucks, suggests that he was employed as the Duke’s equerry from 2002 until 2004. But according to a handful of appearances in the Court Circular, he was still representing the Duke at official events in 2011.

The Army veteran is now head of Safety and Business Delivery at Civil Aviation Authority, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Robert Olney, the Duke's former equerry - LINKEDIN © Provided by The Telegraph Robert Olney, the Duke's former equerry - LINKEDIN

Sigrid McCawley, Ms Giuffre’s lawyer, said in court filings that Mr Olney’s entry in Epstein’s address book meant that he “likely has relevant information about Defendant’s travel to and from Jeffrey Epstein’s various properties during the relevant period, and his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell.”

She added that because the Duke had denied meeting or abusing Ms Giuffre, such information “is directly relevant to a disputed fact to be adjudicated at trial.”

Ms Walker’s lawyer, Lisa Bloom, told the Telegraph last year that she could only identify the year, rather than the specific date, that she saw the Duke at Tramp.

In a written statement given to the FBI, she described seeing Prince Andrew with Ms Giuffre at the nightclub and indicated that she was willing to testify against him in his civil case.

Ms Walker, then 28, said she remembered the night as she had to apologise to the Duke for stepping on his foot.

However, her lawyer, Lisa Bloom, told the Telegraph: “She doesn't remember the exact date. She does remember the year but most importantly, as it was the only time in her life she's seen a royal in person, she remembers seeing Prince Andrew as it made a big impression on her.”

Prince Charles refuses to answer questions

It came as the Prince of Wales on Friday refused to answer questions about the sexual abuse scandal engulfing his brother.

Prince Charles was asked to comment on the Duke’s position barely 24 hours after he was stripped of his military titles and royal patronages and told he could no longer use the title HRH.

The decision, announced by Buckingham Palace, was taken following lengthy discussions between the Queen and her two heirs, the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge, who were united in their desire to protect the monarchy.

Prince Charles - Kami Thomson/PA © Provided by The Telegraph Prince Charles - Kami Thomson/PA

The heir to the throne was accosted about the developments on Friday as he toured a storm-hit country estate in Aberdeenshire.

He glanced up briefly as a Sky News  journalist asked on camera for his view on his brother’s position, but continued walking and ignored the question.

As the Duke’s legal case drags on in the full glare of the public spotlight, senior royals are likely to be asked about the scandal again and again when conducting public duties.

Duke must now prepare for deposition

Meanwhile, the Duke is preparing for his own deposition, which is scheduled for February and will be taken on camera, under oath, in London. It is expected to last for up to seven hours.

Mr Boies and Ms McCawley are expected to fly to the UK for the interview.

Given the Duke’s disastrous performance on Newsnight in November 2019, the Duke will undergo rigorous legal training in preparation, with mock depositions orchestrated by his own lawyers.

Virginia Giuffre - Crime+Investigation/PA © Provided by The Telegraph Virginia Giuffre - Crime+Investigation/PA

Both sides have agreed a draft protective order that outlines which documents and sensitive information obtained in the discovery process will remain confidential.

They include medical records, phone numbers, tax returns, banking information and the names of alleged underage victims of sexual abuse.

Portions of deposition transcripts can also be designated confidential.

The Duke had made an “unprecedented” request for all witness testimony to be kept secret, even if neither party declared the evidence confidential. But Ms McCawley said there was “no logic or authority” for such a provision.

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