Prince Andrew has ordered his US legal team to “cancel Christmas” and prepare for a key court date in his sexual assault case.
The Duke of York has instructed his legal team to “leave no stone unturned” in the lead up to the January 4 hearing, described as his “last ditch attempt” to get allegations he abused a teenage girl thrown out.
Royal sources say he is “totally consumed” with the legal battle and has been staying up into the night to keep in constant conversation with his California-based lawyers. Next Monday they are set to deliver their final submissions to the New York court before a decision is taken in the new year as to whether the Duke will face a full trial.
Virginia Giuffre is pursuing Andrew through the civil courts. He is accused of “rape in the first degree” amid claims he forced Ms Giuffre, also known as Virginia Roberts, to have sex with him three times in 2001 while she was trafficked around the world by the royal’s late paedophile pal Jeffrey Epstein.
In August she sued the Queen’s son for unspecified damages which could run into millions of pounds if she is successful. Sources close to the Duke say he has become “incredibly stressed” in recent weeks after fearing his team’s strategy of not publicly responding to the claims is failing.
Insiders also suggest he is extremely worried over the financial burden he has placed on the Queen, who agreed to personally meet his spiralling court costs, which could run into millions. Prince Andrew has denied the claims.
One source close to Andrew said: “The tension in the camp is palpable. No one is really sure what Andrew’s involvement is other than asking a lot of questions, but he spends his days and nights poring over documents.
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“He is totally consumed by it, keeping most irregular working hours so he can be in contact with his team.
“He was particularly stressed a few days ago and was heard remonstrating with one of the team. The feeling was he was telling them to effectively cancel Christmas and get totally across all the eventualities of what could happen in the case so there are, as he put it, ‘no more surprises’.
“It’s very much a last ditch attempt to get the case thrown out and if that doesn’t succeed he knows they are all potentially in it for the long haul.”
The Duke’s team want the “baseless lawsuit” thrown out, claiming Virginia Giuffre is looking to “achieve another payday at his expense”. Court documents filed on behalf of her lawyers condemned Andrew, 61, for launching a “baseless, defamatory” attack on her credibility, character and motives.
Andrew’s team must meet Monday’s deadline to file a further response before the New York district judge Lewis Kaplan rules on the next stage.
The judge has said he is targeting a date for trial between October to December 2022. Prince Andrew has hired Hollywood lawyer Andrew Brettler from the £1,500-an-hour firm Lavely and Singer to represent him.
Meanwhile, Andrew’s former friend, socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is on trial in New York for allegedly procuring and trafficking young girls for former lover Epstein. A source close to Andrew said he is “aware” the case is progressing but “has no involvement”. His spokesperson did not comment.