The Daily Telegraph

Duke suit served improperly, US judge told

Prince Andrew’s new Hollywood lawyer told there is a risk of case being swamped by technicali­ties

- By Victoria Ward and Josie Ensor

‘I can see a lot of legal fees spent and time expended and delay, which may not be terribly productive’

THE Duke of York’s American lawyer last night described the sexual assault claim filed against him as “baseless, non-viable and potentiall­y unlawful”, as a judge warned him against wasting time and money on technicali­ties.

Andrew Brettler, who is based in Los Angeles, told a New York court that the Duke had not been properly served the lawsuit.

He added that he believed a 2009 settlement signed by Virginia Roberts Giuffre, his accuser, with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein released the Duke and others from “any and all potential liability”.

The 30-minute pre-trial case management hearing, that took place via telephone before Judge Lewis Kaplan, was occasional­ly fraught as the two sides clashed for the first time.

The judge suggested that

Prince Andrew’s lawyers were making the case more complicate­d than it needed to be by challengin­g the method of service. “You have a pretty high degree of certainty that he can be served sooner than later,” he told Mr Brettler.

“Let’s cut out all the technicali­ties and get to the substance.” Judge Kaplan suggested that both sides were arguing at “cross-purposes”, telling them: “There is a very swift way of getting to the substance promptly.

“But you two need to talk about that. Because I can see a lot of legal fees being spent and time being expended and delay, which ultimately may not be terribly productive for anyone.” Mr Brettler insisted that a British High Court official should authorise the service of documents, arguing that the Duke had not been properly served under internatio­nal law.

However, Judge Kaplan told him: “I think we’re making this a lot more complicate­d than it really is.”

He pointed out that The Hague Convention was “optional” and that a plaintiff could order service upon a foreign national under US law.

David Boies, for Ms Giuffre, maintained that Prince Andrew had been served when the papers were delivered to his home at Royal Lodge, Windsor, on Aug 27.

“We’ve proceeded to serve Prince Andrew in several ways pursuant to Article 10 of The Hague Convention,” he told the judge.

Judge Kaplan concluded that Prince Andrew would have the papers served on him at some point, either through Mr Brettler or via the UK Central Authority.

He scheduled the next conference for Oct 13, giving Ms Giuffre’s legal team time to find an alternativ­e method of service.

Mr Brettler was instructed by Prince Andrew within the last fortnight and applied to take part in the court hearing just hours before it was due to start.

The lawyer has represente­d several men facing sexual assault charges, including Hollywood actor Armie Hammer, comedian Chris D’elia, who was accused of soliciting child pornograph­y from 17-year-old girl, and Hollywood director Bryan Singer.

Mr Hammer is currently under investigat­ion by the Los Angeles Police Department after being accused by a 24-year-old woman of violent rape and physical abuse throughout their fouryear on-and-off relationsh­ip.

Several other anonymous women also came forward with accusation­s of sexual impropriet­y.

Mr Brettler has denied the allegation­s on his behalf, claiming all of their interactio­ns were “completely consensual”.

Ms Giuffre claims she was forced to have sex with the Duke three times when she was aged 17 in New York, London and the US Virgin Islands.

She is suing him under New York’s Child Victims Act.

The Duke denies the claims and says he has “no recollecti­on” of meeting her.

 ??  ?? The Duke of York denies all allegation­s
The Duke of York denies all allegation­s

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