Andrew spoke publicly to “reiterate and to reaffirm” a strenuous denial of the allegation that an underaged female was made to have sex with the prince which Buckingham Palace describes it as “categorically untrue”.
Lawyers for Virginia Roberts have written to Andrew at Buckingham Palace to ask for a two-hour sworn interview about Roberts’ claim that she was forced into sexual relations with Andrew by his friend Jeffrey Epstein, a wealthy financier and convicted sex offender. An attempt to deliver the letter by FedEx was apparently rejected by the Palace. Jack Scarola said that if the letter could not be delivered, he would consider making a new request for Andrew to answer questions under a 1970 Hague convention on taking evidence abroad, to which the US and the UK are both signatories. Andrew cannot easily be subpoenaed to give testimony, as an American resident might be, because he lives outside the jurisdiction of the US courts. Visiting Florida may put him at risk of being served with a subpoena to appear there, lawyers said. But a server may find it too difficult to get close enough to the Duke – and past his security detail – to physically hand him legal papers.
The Hague convention states that a country may reject a request if it “considers that its sovereignty or security would be prejudiced”.
“International judicial assistance is always discretionary, based upon principles of comity rather than treaty, and is also subject to legal procedures in the requested country,” said Marcus Funk, a defence attorney and former prosecutor. The request would be sent to Barbara Fontaine, the Senior Master of the Queen’s Bench Division and Queen’s Remembrancer, at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
Under directions to the courts from Britain’s ministry of justice, this interview should “be conducted in the same way as if the witness were giving evidence at a trial”. It may be carried out by “any fit and proper person nominated” by Roberts’ attorneys or “any other person whom the court considers suitable”. Andrew would be entitled to have a lawyer present. If Andrew refused or failed to show up for the interview, the law states that Roberts’ attorneys could apply for a court order instructing him to do so. Disobeying a court order in the UK may leave someone open to prosecution for contempt of court.