Scotland Yard spoke to the woman who has accused the Duke of York of sexually assaulting her in the weeks after she lodged a civil claim against him, it was reported on Sunday night.
Officers with the Metropolitan Police are understood to have contacted Virginia Roberts Giuffre over allegations that she was forced to sleep with Prince Andrew on three separate occasions when she was just 17.
The Met Police had previously examined allegations that Ms Giuffre was a victim of sex trafficking over claims she was brought to the UK by Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and convicted paedophile, who was a close friend of the Duke. But, on each occasion, Scotland Yard said the trafficking was a matter for US authorities.
It is claimed that the decision to contact Ms Giuffre was made after she lodged a claim for punitive damages in a New York court, claiming that Prince Andrew had raped and sexually assaulted her, including one occasion alleged to have taken place in March 2001 in London at the home of Ghislaine Maxwell.
It raises the prospect of the Duke, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing, being subjected to a criminal inquiry in this country.
The civil claim was lodged at the beginning of August, prompting Dame Cressida Dick to announce that the police would look at the allegations afresh. Dame Cressida said, three days after the lawsuit was filed: “As a result of what’s going on, I’ve asked my team to have another look at the material…no one is above the law.”
Scotland Yard declined to give any details on Sunday, but did not deny the claim that Ms Giuffre, now aged 38, had been contacted. A spokesman said: “We would not confirm who we may or may not have spoken to.”
It is unclear if she has given a full witness statement to British police.
‘There is no way in the world he’s ever coming back’
The Duke of York has denied the claims and his legal team plan to fight the civil case in a New York court, unless they can get it thrown out beforehand.
Prince Andrew was photographed with his arm around Ms Giuffre at Ms Maxwell’s London home. He has no memory of having ever met Ms Giuffre while sources have even suggested the photograph may be a fake. Prince Andrew is also accused of having sex with Ms Giuffre in New York and on Epstein’s private island in the Caribbean.
Epstein hanged himself in a prison cell in August 2019 while awaiting fresh child sex abuse charges. Ms Maxwell, the daughter of the media tycoon Robert Maxwell, is in custody in a Brooklyn jail and is due to stand trial in November.
Ms Maxwell denies wrongdoing.
Lawyers for Ms Giuffre have urged the Met Police to open a criminal inquiry. Sigrid McCawley, a partner at Boies Schiller Flexner, said: “Given the clear and compelling evidence implicating Prince Andrew, the Metropolitan Police should reopen its investigation and stand by their statement that no one is above the law.”
Prince Andrew, 61, has seen his reputation seriously tarnished in the wake of his association with Epstein and a catastrophic interview with the BBC’s Emily Maitlis, which led to him stepping down from official duties.
In the aftermath of the interview, The Sun reported that the Duke’s siblings, the Prince of Wales, Princess Royal and Earl of Wessex, held a meeting in early 2021 in which they decided that he must not be allowed to return to public life.
The trio agreed there was “no way back” to a life of official royal duties, despite Prince Andrew’s hopes of rebuilding his reputation through charity work.
This weekend, the Sunday Times reported family frustrations over Prince Andrew’s behaviour, with senior members believing he is now a reputational “threat” to the firm.
The Duke of Cambridge is said to be “no fan” of his uncle, with a friend singling out Andrew’s “ungracious and ungrateful” attitude to his position in the Royal Family as a particular bugbear.
One royal source said: “There is no way in the world he’s ever coming back. The family will never let it happen.”
The Duchess of York remains his staunch supporter, with his daughters Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice remaining silent.