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Lawyers for Prince Andrew try to disqualify Virginia Giuffre from civil lawsuit

Attorneys for Prince Andrew, Andrew Brettler and Melissa Lerner, say they recently discovered the complainant, Virginia Giuffre, has lived in Australia for all but two of the past 19 years and cannot claim she is a resident of Colorado, making her ineli

A lawsuit by a woman who claims Prince Andrew sexually abused her when she was 17 in the United States could be thrown out because she no longer lives in the country, lawyers for the Duke of York say.

Key points:
  • Prince Andrew denies sexual assault allegations made against him by Virginia Giuffre
  • Ms Giuffre claims the Duke of York assaulted her in 2001
  • The prince's lawyers say Ms Giuffre should not be allowed to sue in the US because she now lives in Australia

Attorneys Andrew Brettler and Melissa Lerner wrote that they recently discovered Virginia Giuffre had lived in Australia for all but two of the past 19 years and could not claim she was a resident of Colorado, where she has not lived since at least 2019.

In her lawsuit, filed in August, Ms Giuffre claimed Prince Andrew had abused her on multiple occasions in 2001.

The duke's lawyers in October asked Judge Lewis Kaplan to throw out the lawsuit, saying the prince "never sexually abused or assaulted" Ms Giuffre and they believed she had sued "to achieve another payday at his expense and at the expense of those closest to him".

They acknowledged Ms Giuffre may be a victim of sexual abuse by financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself in 2019 while awaiting a sex trafficking trial.

Virginia Giuffre stands on a balcony with Cairns harbour behind her.Virginia Giuffre stands on a balcony with Cairns harbour behind her.
Virginia Giuffre now lives in Australia with her husband and three children.(ABC News: Brendan Mounter)

Last month, Judge Kaplan said a trial in Ms Giuffre's lawsuit against Prince Andrew could occur between September and December 2022.

However, the prince's lawyers said in a filing on Tuesday the new information about Ms Giuffre's residence should result in the suspension of any further progress in the lawsuit toward trial, which would include depositions of Prince Andrew and Ms Giuffre, until the issue is settled as to whether a foreign resident would be disqualified from suing.

They asked the judge to order Ms Giuffre to respond to written legal requests about her residency status and to submit to a two-hour deposition on the issue.

An attorney for Ms Giuffre, Sigrid McCawley, called the request to toss out the case "just another in a series of tired attempts by Prince Andrew to duck and dodge the legal merits of the case Virginia Giuffre has brought against him".

"All parties in litigation are subject to discovery and Prince Andrew is no exception," Ms McCawley said.

A man and two women stand in a house looking at the camera.A man and two women stand in a house looking at the camera.
This photograph shows Prince Andrew, Virginia Giuffre and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2001.(Supplied)

The prince's attorneys wrote that Ms Giuffre has an Australian driver's license and was living in a $1.9 million home in Perth, where she has been raising three children with her husband, who is Australian.

"Even if Ms Giuffre's Australian domicile could not be established as early as October 2015, there can be no real dispute that she was permanently living there with an intent to remain there as of 2019 — still two years before she filed this action against Prince Andrew," they wrote.

The lawyers said the timing of Mr Giuffre's registration to vote in Colorado, prior to filing the lawsuit against the prince, was "suspicious and appears to be a calculated move in an effort to support her specious claim of citizenship in Colorado, despite having moved to Australia at least a year (if not four years) earlier".

AP

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