Prince Andrew ‘bewildered’ by FBI claims
PRINCE Andrew will speak to the FBI and is "angry and bewildered" by claims he failed to co-operate with the intelligence agency, close friends have said.
The Duke of York was accused by a US prosecutor yesterday of "zero co-operation" with the investigation into convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
The Duke of York last year insisted he was "willing to help if required" with the investigation into Epstein, The Sun reported.
The 59-year-old has tonight rubbished claims the FBI has been trying to interview him since November as a source close to the royal told The Daily Mail: "Nothing could be further from the truth."
They said the Queen's third child was "committed to the legal process" and was "more than happy to talk" but "hasn't been approached yet".
The source added: "He is angry about the way this is being portrayed and bewildered as to why this was said in New York. It seems certain people are jumping the gun."
It comes as Jeffrey Epstein's victims' lawyers have said Prince Andrew's lack of co-operation with the FBI is a "slap in the face" and "raises more questions".
But in a dramatic press conference yesterday, the FBI said they had contacted the royal's attorneys, requesting an interview, but had been provided "zero co-operation".
US lawyer Lisa Bloom, who is representing five of Epstein's alleged victims, today blasted the lack of assistance from the 59-year-old prince, while another lawyer representing Andrew's accuser Virginia Roberts Giuffre said his failure to co-operate "raises even more questions".
Speaking to Sky News, Ms Bloom said: "He did an interview where he showed zero compassion for the victims and after the backlash he said 'no, I have compassion for the victims and to prove it I'm going to co-operate with law enforcement'.
"And now we find out he's shown zero co-operation.
"This is really a slap in the face to the victims, to the five who I represent, to the probably hundreds more who allege Jeffrey Epstein assaulted them.
"Why doesn't he want to co-operate?
"I think that's the question. What is he trying to hide, what is he afraid of."
It has since been reported the FBI had been trying to interview the under-fire royal since November.
It comes after Geoffrey Berman, the US lawyer for the Southern District of New York, revealed the prince's lack of co-operation during a dramatic press conference outside Epstein's mansion.
He said: "The Southern District of New York and the FBI have contacted Prince Andrew's attorneys and requested to interview Prince Andrew, and to date, Prince Andrew has provided zero co-operation."
The top prosecutor said he was revealing the information because the prince "publicly offered, indeed in a press release, to co-operate with law enforcement investigating the crimes committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his co-conspirators".
Speaking at the press conference - held to promote a new law to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to sue - Mr Berman said the probe into Epstein's network was continuing.
Mr Berman's explosive revelation sparked fury from those representing victims of sex beast Epstein - including Ms Roberts Giuffre.
The American mum-of-three, now 36, claims she was forced to have sex with the prince three times when she was a teenager, after being trafficked to him by Epstein.
The royal has vehemently denied her claims.
Sigrid McCawley, who represents Ms Roberts Giuffre, said: "Prince Andrew should take most seriously the deeply held belief in this country that no one is above the law."
She added: "Prince Andrew's continued refusal to co-operate with the authorities after freely acknowledging that he would be prepared to answer inquiries raises even more questions about the role he played in the international sex trafficking ring Jeffrey Epstein and others operated."
Jack Scarola, another lawyer representing Ms Roberts Giuffre, told The Sun: "It is obvious that Prince Andrew is persisting in a pattern of noncooperation which is now been going on for years.
"I would certainly believe that he should recognise his moral obligation to participate in the search for the truth.
"With all that the victims of Jeffrey Epstein have been through - over so many years - I would say that they expected nothing different."
Speaking directly of Andrew's accuser, he added: "I am sure that Virginia had no other expectations than Prince Andrew would refuse to voluntarily co-operate."
Andrew clarified his intention to co-operate with the FBI following his disastrous interview with BBC's Newsnight in November.
During the BBC interview, Andrew said he would have to consult with his lawyers before testifying under oath about his ties to Epstein.
But in a statement after the broadcast, he said: "Of course, I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigations, if required."
FBI and federal prosecutors in Manhattan are trying to bring justice for dozens of Epstein's victims - by going after his alleged accomplices.
Epstein, 66, killed himself in jail last year while awaiting trial on child sex trafficking allegations - following numerous bungled probes into his conduct.
Prosecutors had accused him of sexually exploiting dozens of women and girls in New York and Florida before he hanged himself.
Shortly after Epstein's death, Mr Berman issued a statement vowing to continue the investigation into his co-conspirators.
They are now said to be zeroing in on Ghislaine Maxwell - a close friend of Andrew - who is alleged to have acted at Epstein's 'pimp'.
Maxwell - who is currently in hiding - has denied any wrongdoing.
Andrew was forced to quit as a frontline royal last year, following his car crash chat with Emily Maitlis on Newsnight.
During the interview, he suggested that a photograph showing him and Miss Roberts Giuffre together in the home of Maxwell was faked.
He said he had "no recollection" of meeting Ms Roberts Giuffre and claimed he was at a Pizza Express in Woking on one of the days they were meant to have had sex.
When asked whether he regretted continuing his friendship with Epstein, the prince said: "Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes."
"Unbecoming?" Miss Maitlis replied. "He was a sex offender."
A Buckingham Palace spokesman declined to comment on the FBI claims last night, but a source close to the prince said: "This issue is being dealt with by The Duke of York's legal team".
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission