Prince Andrew’s lawyer has asked a judge to keep sealed a 2009 legal deal that he says may protect the prince from claims he sexually assaulted an American as a teenager.
The request was made in court documents in Manhattan Federal Court, where U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan is presiding over a lawsuit filed in August on behalf of his accuser Virginia Giuffre.
Ms Giuffre alleges the prince repeatedly abused her in 2001, when she was 17 and a minor under US law.
Prince Andrew has denied all the allegations.
Lawyer Andrew Brettler, who represents the royal family, called the lawsuit “without merit”.
He is preparing written arguments to demand its dismissal and wants to include under seal a deal which he says bars the trial against the royal.
He also asked to redact all parts of his arguments that reveal information in the agreement.
Mr Brettler said neither the Prince nor Ms Giuffre were claiming the release deal should remain sealed, but they wanted to ask that it be kept under wraps as it is subject to a protective order from another judge presiding over an action federal civil service in New York.
The deal was made between Ms Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his cell in 2019 pending trial on charges of sex trafficking. His death was qualified as suicide.
Mr Brettler said the deal “frees Prince Andrew and others from any alleged liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre has raised against Prince Andrew here”.
A preliminary hearing related to the trial is scheduled for next week.
Judge Kaplan ruled on Prince Andrew on Monday must be examined under oath by Ms. Giuffre’s attorneys in her civil sexual assault case by mid-July next year.
Prince Andrew vehemently denied the allegations against him, telling the BBC in late 2019 that he had never had sex with Ms Giuffre, saying: “It never happened”.