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Prince Andrew sex claim: Alan Dershowitz threatens action

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Media captionAlan Dershowitz: "My goal is to bring charges against the client and require her to speak in court"

A US lawyer says he is planning legal action against a woman who claims she was forced to have sex with him and Prince Andrew when she was a minor.

Alan Dershowitz told the BBC he wanted her claims to be made under oath.

He and the Duke of York were named in documents filed in a Florida court over how prosecutors handled a case against financier Jeffrey Epstein.

Buckingham Palace has denied the woman's claims that she was forced by Epstein to have sex with Prince Andrew.

On Saturday, the palace issued a further statement, in which it "emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship" with the woman.

The Mail on Sunday has identified the claimant as Virginia Roberts, but the BBC has not been able to verify her identity.

The woman behind the allegations says she was forced to sleep with the prince when she was under age, and on three occasions - in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein - between 1999 and 2002.

Mr Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law professor, said he intended to legally challenge the woman's allegations.

"My goal is to bring charges against the client and require her to speak in court. If she believes she has been hurt by me and Prince Andrew, she should be suing us for damages.

"I welcome that lawsuit. I welcome any opportunity that would put her under oath and require her to state under oath these false allegations."

Mr Dershowitz also said he thought Prince Andrew should take "whatever legal action is available" to clear his name.

He added: "You cannot allow these false allegations simply to remain out there, and you cannot allow people who make false allegations to have the freedom to continue to make them."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Prince Andrew has been named in documents filed in a Florida court

He previously told the BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the allegations against Prince Andrew must be presumed to be false, and that he had only met the prince at public occasions, never having been alone with him.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman has said in a statement: "This relates to long-standing and ongoing civil proceedings in the United States, to which the Duke of York is not a party.

"As such we would not comment on the detail. However, for the avoidance of doubt, any suggestion of impropriety with under age minors is categorically untrue".


Background

By Rajini Vaidyanathan, BBC Washington correspondent

While accusations are levelled against Prince Andrew, it's important to note that he is not party to the proceedings.

Instead he is named as part of evidence relating to a wider case of an alleged sex trafficking scheme, involving US businessman Jeffrey Epstein, who spent time in jail in 2008-9 for a sex offence with a minor.

Two women (known as Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2) are suing the US government, saying it failed to protect their rights when it entered into a plea deal with Epstein.

Now, two further women (Jane Doe #3 and #4) want to join this case, and it's Jane Doe #3 who has made claims against the Duke of York, as part of this.

The prince strongly denies the allegations. This is the first time they have surfaced publicly, and no legal case has been made against him on this matter.


The woman has issued a statement through her lawyers, saying she was "looking forward to vindicating my rights as an innocent victim and pursuing all available recourse", adding that she was "not going to be bullied back into silence".

The court document alleges that Epstein sexually trafficked the woman making her available for sex to "politically connected and financially powerful people".

Prince Andrew and Mr Dershowitz are two of three well-known men named in the court document who it alleges had sexual relations with the woman.

Image copyright News Syndication
Image caption Prince Andrew has been criticised for his former friendship with Jeffrey Epstein (right)

The prince has previously been criticised for his former friendship with Epstein, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for soliciting a minor for prostitution.

The prince and Epstein were photographed meeting in December 2010, after the tycoon had served his prison sentence, and the prince has also visited Epstein at his Florida home over the years.

The prince later had to apologise for his friendship with him, and stepped down as the UK special representative for trade and investment after 10 years in the role.

US citizen Virginia Roberts waived her anonymity in an interview with the Mail on Sunday in 2011, claiming she had been sexually exploited by Epstein as a teenager.

She also claimed to have met Prince Andrew on several occasions, but the paper said there was no suggestion of any sexual contact between Virginia Roberts and the prince.

Peter Hunt, BBC royal correspondent, said the prince was "once again the focus of an attention he'd rather avoid because of his past friendship with a convicted sex offender".

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