A British court on Wednesday indicated that it intends to formally provide notice to Prince Andrew of a sexual assault lawsuit filed against him in New York, according to a court statement and documents obtained by ABC News.
“The legal process has not yet been served but the High Court will now take steps to serve under the [Hague] Convention,” a court spokesperson told Reuters in a statement.
The court’s decision came over the objections of the prince’s legal team, who have argued that lawyers for the prince’s accuser, Virginia Giuffre, are not authorized to receive assistance from the U.K. courts to serve a summons on the prince.
Giuffre, 38, sued the prince in a U.S. federal court last month, accusing the prince of sexually assaulting her in 2001 at the Manhattan home of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and at other locations. The prince has denied her allegations.
In an email sent and obtained Wednesday by ABC News, Gary Bloxsome — lawyer for the prince — insisted that the request for service from Giuffre’s lawyers was “contrary” to British law. Bloxsome contended that granting the request amounted to “an infringement of UK sovereignty,” according to the email Bloxsome sent to special master Barbara Fontaine, a British judicial official.
In response, Fontaine told Bloxsome that if the prince’s team wished to contest her determination, they should do so by requesting a formal hearing.
“I do not consider that it is appropriate for me to determine this disputed issue by email,” Fontaine wrote in an email to Bloxsome.
The British court’s decision comes just two days after a lawyer for Prince Andrew appeared in a New York court to argue that the 61-year-old son of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II had not been legally served with notice of Giuffre’s lawsuit. The attorney, Andrew Brettler, assailed the case as “baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful.”
Brettler has not responded to an email request for comment from ABC News.
A lawyer for Giuffre said Wednesday that he regards the myriad objections of Prince Andrew’s legal team as an effort to delay or avoid the prince having to face the allegations in court.
“I think that their continued intransigence here is something that ultimately goes to their credibility; I think ultimately makes clear that they don’t have any confidence in their defense on the merits,” said David Boies, chairman of the New York-based law firm Boies Schiller Flexner, which represents Giuffre.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is overseeing Giuffre’s case against the prince, has set a hearing for next month to determine if the prince has been legally and lawfully served with notice of the lawsuit.