The unanswered questions about Prince Andrew and the settlement with Virginia Giuffre

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On Tuesday, Prince Andrew settled a civil sexual assault case brought against him by Virginia Giuffre.

She had claimed she had been sexually assaulted on three occasions when she was 17, allegations he has repeatedly denied.

He will no longer face a jury trial. The terms of the deal prevent either side from discussing the case or the settlement itself in public.

A joint statement released on Tuesday, February 15, read: “Prince Andrew has never intended to malign Ms Giuffre’s character and accepts that she has suffered both as an established victim of abuse and as a result of unfair public attacks”.

The statement also references his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein, the American financier and convicted sex offender who killed himself as he awaited, without the chance of bail, his trial on sex trafficking charges.

The statement said Prince Andrew “regrets his association with Epstein and commends the bravery of Ms Giuffre and other survivors”.

How much was the payment?

The Duke of York had to pay an undisclosed sum as part of the settlement.

A statement from their lawyers said the duke would pay an undisclosed sum to Ms Giuffre and make a “substantial donation” to Ms Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights.

It doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of speculative reports about the sum. TheTelegraph says the amount that will go to Ms Giuffre and her charity exceeds £12m.

Where is the money coming from?

The source of the Prince’s personal wealth is described as a “mystery” in a comprehensive piece by The Telegraph, who say he has a “modest” Navy pension and annual £250,000 stipend from the Queen.

Prince Andrew himself has recently settled a £6.6m debt with a French socialite which allows him to sell a Swiss chalet. At that time, it was reported that would help him fund the legal bills he faced. Isabelle de Rouvre sold the property to Prince Andrew and his former wife Sarah, Duchess of York, in 2014 for a reported £18m. The prince had agreed with Rouvre that Chalet Helora in the ski resort of Verbier in the Swiss Alps, would be paid for in installations but Rouvre claimed the two failed to make the final £5m installation.

Rouvre launched legal action in May 2020 in Switzerland to recoup the £5m plus interest owed to her. Andrew is said to have finally paid late last year.

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However, the paper says that the Queen will foot part of the bill from her private Duchy of Lancaster estate which covers over 18,000 hectares of land. It includes areas like Lancashire and Yorkshire, as well as property in central London. The Duchy’s 45,600-acre holdings have provided an independent source of revenue for the monarch’s “Privy Purse” since 1399.

In the year ending March 2020, the Duchy of Lancaster made a profit of just over £23m.

The Queen also has a private income, separate to her income from through properties such as Sandringham and Balmoral, which she owns personally.

Why pay out at all?

It’s said that there was surprise from within Ms Giuffre’s legal team that the settlement came with reports Prince Charles intervened to stop the events overshadowing the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year.

In their report, The Telegraph reports: “A source close to the talks said: ‘Walls were closing in fast. After his deposition, he would likely have been so damaged, no one could save him or agree to fund his settlement.'”

Legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg QC has written a blog about the settlement. In it, he said: “Why would Andrew pay money to a woman he denies having assaulted? Why would Giuffre withdraw her claim against him without either an admission of responsibility or an apology? Can we infer that Andrew could not be confident of establishing an alibi? Or should we conclude that Giuffre could not be sure of proving her claims? These questions may never be answered.

“The only conclusion we can safely draw is that a settlement suits both parties — as well as their lawyers. It has also saved huge sums in legal fees. Unless Giuffre is much wealthier than she appears, I suspect these costs would have been borne either by Andrew or by [legal firm] Boies — or perhaps by both”.

What does the payout mean in terms of his guilt or innocence?

Mr Rozenberg explains that the allegations will now remain as allegations. “Giuffre’s allegations remain just that. They will not be established or demolished, even to the civil standard of proof. And that may reduce the chances of a criminal prosecution. But, as part of the settlement, Andrew has had to admit to his ” association” with Jeffrey Epstein — a man who, in the words of the settlement, “trafficked countless young girls over many years”.

Could Virginia Giuffre still testify against him in future?

Her lawyer said on Tuesday. David Boies said: ‘It’s a really great day. Virginia was thrilled when we told her the terms. This has all come about over the past couple of days, it’s been quite quick. I am not sure what changed from his side. I thought that this should have been settled when we brought the lawsuit.

‘That’s basically the end of the case. She will get paid the money in 30 days’ time. I cannot comment on the amount or the terms, but it’s a good day.'”

Can he return to public duty?

Politico said this morning: “The sordid deal is the final disgrace for the queen’s third child and ends his prospect of ever salvaging his reputation or returning to public life.”

There is no doubt that he has avoided what would be a humiliating, and headline-grabbing trial, but it does not vindicate the prince. The i says: “It is widely believed that Prince Charles and the Duke of Cambridge have also taken a firm decision that there is no way back to a formal royal role for Andrew.”

What does he do with his life now?

In November 2019, the Prince stepped back from public life and in January he was stripped of his military titles and the use of “His Royal Highness”.

Buckingham Palace said in a statement: “With the Queen’s approval and agreement, the Duke of York’s military affiliations and Royal patronages have been returned to the Queen.

“The Duke of York will continue not to undertake any public duties and is defending this case as a private citizen.”

All Prince Andrew’s roles were returned to the Queen with immediate effect, and will be redistributed to other members of the Royal Family, a source said. He has also terminated deals with private companies, and the calls to end his association with people or places continues.

Labor MP Rachael Maskell, who represents York Central, has called on the royal to remove his association with the city in light of the settlement in his civil sex case brought by Virginia Giuffre. “Carrying a title does create an ambassadorial relationship with that place, and for somewhere with a global reputation, such as York, this is extremely important.

“To demonstrate his seriousness in this endeavor, and his respect for those affected by abuse and the people of our city, I would ask that his first act of contrition is to confirm his support for the withdrawal of his ducal title.”

On March 29, he is due to appear in public alongside his mother and the rest of the Royal family for a service of thanksgiving for Prince Philip at Westminster Abbey. However, he is not expected to take part in any further public events or celebrations linked to the jubilee for the rest of the year, after being advised to keep his head down.

A source close to his team told The Telegraph: “It has been made clear that the public have heard enough about him and enough from him. They need to hear no more.”

When he was forced to abandon his patronage, not a single charity organization expressed a desire to continue working with him. “How could he have any public role when no one wants to be associated with him?” the source added.

Until late last year, the Duke had privately expressed his desire to return to public duties, adamant he would clear his name. However, it is now accepted he will be forever tainted by the case.

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