As the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has ramped up its efforts to speak to Prince Andrew about his ties to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, the British royal has reportedly told friends that he is planning to “fight back” against claims that he has not been cooperating with U.S. authorities.
According to the Daily Mail, the declaration came after the DOJ filed a “mutual legal assistance” (MLA) request to the United Kingdom’s Home Office late last month. Under a legal 1994 treaty, the request is used in criminal cases and — if granted — could mean that the prince will either have to attend a voluntary interview or give a signed statement to authorities.
It is not the same action as an extradition request, which would only be launched if the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) believed that it had enough evidence to charge Andrew as a suspect. However, the MLA could nevertheless have serious potential legal consequences for the Duke of York, who himself has been accused of having sex with a minor while with Epstein.
Though the Home Office confirmed that the agency had received the request, it did not announce whether the measure had been granted.
Representatives for Andrew have made it clear that any reports claiming the royal has not been cooperating with the FBI are false. His office added that legal aides for the prince have been in consistent contact with the prosecutor of the case since January.
Moreover, his office claimed they will be releasing a full account of their communication with the DOJ in the upcoming week to verify their claims in an attempt to “fight back” against the negative rumors.
However, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, has openly slammed the duke for providing “zero cooperation” and stated the British royal had effectively “shut the door” on a peaceful collaboration to bring Epstein to justice.
According to Berman, Andrew’s lawyers had also made it clear that the duke was “not willing to submit to an interview,” despite his public pledge of promising to help investigators.
Though the prince could plead the Fifth Amendment if he is called for an interview, experts have claimed that the move could seriously damage his already tarnished reputation, in addition to inviting other potential legal consequences.
“While the Prince would retain the right to decline to testify under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the impact on his already diminished reputation would be considerable and an adverse inference could be drawn against him in the related civil litigations, leading to a possible default judgment,” explained federal prosecutor Evan T Barr, who wrote about the subject last month in the New York Law Journal.
As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, members of the royal family have grown frustrated at Andrew’s ongoing battle with the FBI, with some members going so far as to claim the queen’s second son is “toxic.”
Epstein committed suicide in August 2019 while in a Manhattan jail.
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