Prince Andrew’s legal team has finally accepted that he has been correctly served with legal papers by his sex accuser, Virginia Roberts.
The Duke of York conceded ‘the inevitable’, sources told the Daily Mail, and now has 21 days to respond to her accusations of sexual assault and sexual battery. Miss Roberts’s attorney, David Boies, also told the Mail last night that he expected the prince’s US lawyer, Andrew B Brettler, to apply for a ‘reasonable’ extension to respond to the complaint and indicated they would likely agree.
Sources have confirmed that they fully expect Andrew’s team to embark on that course of action. But they also warned that the duke intends to ‘come out fighting’ and use the civil court claim to repudiate Miss Roberts’s accusations ‘point by point, claim by claim’ and, they hope, clear his name.
A second preliminary hearing is due to take place in Manhattan on October 13.
Last week his lawyer claimed that the legal papers had not been properly served in the UK, after they were left with a policeman at the gate of his Windsor mansion.
However, by earlier this week Miss Roberts’s legal team had lodged documents with a court in New York saying they had been able to send papers to Mr Brettler in Los Angeles via FedEx courier and email officially notifying the prince of the case.
The filing said the High Court in London was also informed. Mr Boies – who is widely considered to have ‘outwitted’ Andrew’s London-based legal team at every turn – said: ‘Andrew’s counsel have agreed that service has been made.
‘Theoretically the clock is now ticking. However, it would be normal for them to ask for, and for us to agree to, a reasonable extension of time to respond to the complaint.’
The news comes as sources close to the prince attempted to scotch reports saying Andrew was being urged to ditch his London-based legal team led by Gary Bloxsome at Blackfords LLP amid concern about its strategy.
The claim was made following reports that the Duke of York is being urged by friends and aides to ditch his London-based lawyers.
Virginia Roberts has accused the prince of having sex with her on three occasions when she was 17, knowing she had been trafficked by his close friend, the convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein.
Andrew has strongly denied the accusations. But many in the prince’s circle are said to believe the attempts to play a dead bat to the allegations have been both a legal and a PR disaster, allowing Miss Roberts’s lawyers to outwit and outplay them at every turn.
Her solicitor David Boies has scathingly described their actions as a ‘game of hide and seek behind palace walls’.
Even the judge in the case, Lewis Kaplan, made clear his irritation at the delay tactics last week, telling the prince’s US attorney Andrew B Brettler: ‘Let’s cut out all the technicalities and get to the substance.’
But a source close to the Duke of York told the Daily Mail yesterday: ‘Irrespective of media reports, the duke retains every confidence in his legal team and their strategy.’