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Prince Andrew's lawyer asks judge to seal 2009 agreement in Virginia Roberts case

Prince Andrew's lawyer has asked a New York judge to seal a 2009 legal agreement that he believes can protect the royal against claims he sexually assaulted Virginia Roberts when she was under 18.

A US lawsuit filed by Roberts, now known as Virginia Giuffre, alleges she was trafficked to London as a 17-year-old by pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein and forced to have sex with the Prince at Ghislaine Maxwell's house. 

In her lawsuit, Giuffre claimed Andrew knew she was a victim of sex trafficking by Epstein, and also knew she was a minor under US law.

But the royal's attorney, Andrew Brettler, believes a legal agreement reached between Epstein and Giuffre in 2009 absolves Andrew of all responsibility in the lawsuit he described as 'baseless' and which the prince himself has strongly denied.

Brettler said the agreement 'releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms. Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here', and officially made the request to keep the agreement sealed to the Manhattan federal court yesterday.

He also requested to redact any portions of his arguments that reveal information in the agreement.

This picture, dated 2001, shows Prince Andrew with his arm around the bare midriff of a 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, (now known as Virginia Giuffre) while Ghislaine Maxwell grins in the background. Giuffre alleges she was trafficked to London as a 17-year-old by pedophile financier Jeffrey Epstein and forced to have sex with the Prince at Ghislaine Maxwell's house

The royal's attorney, Andrew Brettler (pictured), believes a legal agreement reached between Epstein and Giuffre in 2009 absolves Andrew of all responsibility in the lawsuit he described as 'baseless', and formally requested that the agreement remain sealed to protect Prince Andrew

In her civil lawsuit, Giuffre (left) also claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew at the mansion of Epstein (right) in New York and on Little St James, his private island in the Caribbean 

The prince's lawyers said that the agreement reached by Giuffre and Epstein prevents Giuffre from filing a lawsuit anyone else connected to Epstein.

Giuffre settled her damages claim against the billionaire sex offender in 2009, who later died in prison in 2019 from suicide - the legitimacy of which has been highly contested.

Brettler said neither the prince nor Giuffre contend that the release agreement must remain sealed, but they wanted to ask that it stay secret because it is subject to a protective order from another judge presiding over a federal civil action in New York. 

A pretrial hearing pertaining to the lawsuit is scheduled for next week in the Manhattan court and will be presided over by US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who said that depositions in sexual assault case must be completed by mid-July of next year.

In addition to her allegations that she was forced into sleeping with Andrew in London in 2001, Giuffre alleges Andrew also sexually assaulted her at Epstein's mansion in New York and on Little St James, his private island in the Caribbean.  

Prince Andrew's lawyers have said that a legal agreement reached by Giuffre and Epstein prevents Giuffre from filing a lawsuit anyone else connected to Epstein. Giuffre settled her damages claim against the billionaire sex offender in 2009 (Pictured: Prince Andrew, April 2021)

British police announced earlier this month that they have dropped their probe into the prince after conducting a review prompted by Giuffre's claims (Pictured: Andrew with Epstein in Central Park, New York in 2010)

It comes after British police announced earlier this month that they have dropped their probe into the prince after conducting a review prompted by Giuffre's claims. 

The Metropolitan Police had previously examined the allegations made by Giuffre against Andrew but did not open a full investigation, saying the case was a matter for the US authorities.

The police also said no action would result from allegations that Epstein's alleged accomplice, Ghislaine Maxwell, trafficked, groomed and abused women and girls in the UK.

Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein's onetime girlfriend, goes to trial in November in New York on sex trafficking charges. She has pleaded not guilty.

In late 2019, Andrew told the BBC that he never had sex with Giuffre, saying, 'It didn't happen.'

The prince has not yet been charged with any crime, but the highly-publicized accusations have proved ruinous for his image.

Andrew has insisted he has 'no recollection' of meeting Miss Roberts and has repeatedly denied her account of events.