“To date, we have chosen not to make any public statement regarding our discussions with the US Department of Justice (DOJ),” London-based law firm Blackfords LLP told Fox News on Monday in a written statement.
Blackfords LLD and instructed counsel Clare Montgomery QC and Stephen Ferguson were commissioned by the Duke of York in January 2020 as part of the British royal’s “desire to provide cooperation to the US authorities regarding the victims of the late Jeffrey Epstein, should those authorities request his assistance.”
“Our commitment to confidentiality is not only regarded as best practice in the UK but is also intended to respect the DOJ’s commitment to confidentiality, as set out in its own rules as they apply to discussion with potential witnesses,” they shared.
Britain’s Prince Andrew, the Duke of York.
(Photo by AP/Sang Tan)
However, the firm said there have been “misleading media briefings” concerning the 60-year-old prince. Multiple reports are alleging that US prosecutors have reportedly demanded that the U.K. hand over Andrew to face questions over his ties to Epstein.
“As the public record indicates the DOJ has been actively investigating Mr. Epstein and other targets for more than 16 years, yet the first time they requested the Duke’s help was on 2nd January 2020,” claimed the firm. “Importantly, the DOJ advised us that the Duke is not and has never been a ‘target’ of their criminal investigations into Epstein and that they sought his confidential, voluntary cooperation. In the course of these discussions, we asked the DOJ to confirm that our co-operation and any interview arrangements would remain confidential, in accordance with the ordinary rules that apply to voluntary co-operation with the DOJ.”
“We were given an unequivocal assurance that our discussions and the interview process would remain confidential,” they continued. “The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DOJ. Unfortunately, the DOJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero cooperation. In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.”
The firm pointed out that on Jan. 27, Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, told reporters at a news conference outside of Epstein’s former Upper East Side residence that federal prosecutors reached out to Andrew and have been struggling to get the prince to agree to sit down with them.
Late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein in Cambridge, Mass., on Sept. 8, 2004.
(Rick Friedman/Rick Friedman Photography/Corbis via Getty Images)
At the time, Berman told the press outside the mansion: “The Southern District of New York and the FBI have contacted Prince Andrew’s attorneys and requested to interview Prince Andrew, and to date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation.”
Andrew’s attorneys now say the statement has led to worldwide media reports about a “wall of silence” concerning the royal.
“These statements were inaccurate, and they should not have been made,” they said.
The firm also pointed out Berman spoke out again on March 9 and said Andrew had “completely shut the door” on cooperating with the U.S. investigation.
“Again, the first statement was inaccurate and should not have been made,” said the firm.
“It is a matter of regret that the DOJ has seen fit to breach its own rules of confidentiality, not least as they are designed to encourage witness cooperation,” they shared. “Far from our client acting above the law, as has been implied by press briefings in the US, he is being treated by a lower standard than might reasonably be expected for any other citizen. Further, those same breaches of confidentiality by the DOJ have given the global media – and, therefore, the worldwide audience – an entirely misleading account of our discussions with them.”
Prince Andrew is the third child of Queen Elizabeth II and her second son.
“Any pursuit of an application for mutual legal assistance would be disappointing since the Duke of York is not a target of the DOJ investigation and has recently repeated his willingness to provide a witness statement,” they continued. “It is hoped that this third offer has not been the cause of the most recent leak about the Duke of York. We do not intend to make any further public statement at this time as we wish to respect the rules of confidentiality under both English law and the US guidelines.”
In response to recent reports concerning Andrew, the FBI told Fox News they have “no comment and are unable to provide any further information.”
A spokesperson for DOJ also told Fox News: “As a matter of policy, the U.S. Department of Justice does not publicly comment on communications with foreign governments on investigative matters, including confirming or denying the very existence of such communications.”
In November 2019, Andrew asked his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, to “step back” from public duties. He previously gave an interview to the BBC attempting to clear his name, but the televised sit-down is still recognized as a total public relations disaster. Many in the media were quick to deride the prince for not only defending his friendship with Epstein but failing to show empathy for the convicted sex offender’s victims.
Photo from 2001 that was included in court files released last week shows Prince Andrew with his arm around the waist of 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre who says Jeffrey Epstein paid her to have sex with the prince. Andrew has denied the charges. In the background is Epstein’s girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.
(U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals)
“It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption to my family’s work and the valuable work going on in the many organisations and charities that I am proud to support,” the statement posted to the royal family’s Twitter account read in part.
“Therefore, I have asked Her Majesty if I may step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, and she has given her permission.”
Virginia Roberts, now Virginia Giuffre, has said Epstein forced her to have sex with Andrew in 2001 when she was 17. She says Epstein flew her around the world on private planes to have sex with powerful men, and that she had sexual encounters with Andrew in London, New York and in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“It didn’t happen. I can absolutely categorically tell you it never happened. I have no recollection of ever meeting this lady, none whatsoever,” the Duke of York said in his interview.
Giuffre had challenged the British royal to speak out, telling reporters in New York “he knows exactly what he’s done.”
“And the answer is nothing,” Andrew told the BBC.
Royal Ascot Race Meeting Thursday – Ladies Day. Prince Andrew, The Duke Of York and Jeffrey Epstein (far right) At Ascot. With them are Edward (far left) and Caroline Stanley (in pink), the Earl and Countess of Derby.
(Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Andrew admitted: “I kick myself … on a daily basis” for being friends with and staying with Epstein on multiple occasions
“I stayed with him and that’s [something] I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that,” the second son of Queen Elizabeth said.
Elsewhere in the interview, Andrew admitted that he did not regret his friendship with Epstein because of the people he met and all the things he learned, another statement for which he was chastised by the media.
Epstein died in jail on Aug. 10, 2019 while awaiting trial on federal sex trafficking and conspiracy charges that prosecutors alleged involved many girls over several years in the early 2000s.
Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.