8 Apr 2015

'Lurid' Prince Andrew claims struck off

7:39 am on 8 April 2015

Claims a woman was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew when she was 17 are to be struck from the record of a civil case in the United States, a judge has ruled.

Prince Andrew

Prince Andrew Photo: AFP

The Duke of York was named in court papers in Florida by a woman alleging financier Jeffrey Epstein forced her to have sex with the duke three times.

But Judge Kenneth Marra said the "lurid" claims were "unnecessary" to decide the civil case.

Buckingham Palace has previously "emphatically" denied the allegations.

BBC royal correspondent Nicholas Witchell said Judge Marra had expressed no opinion as to the "validity or veracity" of the allegations.

The duke had been named in documents filed in a Florida court about how prosecutors handled a case against Epstein, a former friend of the royal.

The documents concerned claims by Virginia Roberts, who alleged Epstein had forced her to have sex with powerful men - including Prince Andrew - when she was 17.

Two women - known as Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 - are suing the US government, saying it failed to protect their rights when it entered into a plea deal with Epstein, who spent time in jail in 2008-9 for a sex offence with a minor.

Ms Roberts - referred to as Jane Doe #3 in the court papers - had been attempting to join the claim against the US government.

But the US judge denied her attempt to join the claim and said Mr Roberts' allegations about Prince Andrew were "unnecessary to the determination" of the case.

"The factual details regarding with whom and where the Jane Does engaged in sexual activities are immaterial and impertinent to this central claim," the judge said in a ruling.

In the court papers, Ms Roberts said she had been forced to have sexual relations with the duke in three locations - in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein - between 1999 and 2002.

Responding to the claims - which surfaced at the start of the year - Buckingham Palace said "any suggestion of impropriety with under-age minors is categorically untrue".

In a further statement, the palace said the claims against Prince Andrew were "categorically untrue" and lacked "any foundation".

Speaking at a world business forum in January, Prince Andrew said he wanted to "reiterate" the denials issued by Buckingham Palace.

- BBC

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