Lawyers representing alleged victims of convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein have urged Prince Andrew to co-operate with an inquiry into the financier.
Lisa Bloom said Epstein’s accusers were “outraged” by the Duke of York not assisting the US authorities.
It comes after the prosecutor in charge of the US investigation said the duke had provided “zero co-operation”.
The duke has said he did not witness or suspect any suspicious behaviour during visits to Epstein’s homes.
He has come under fire for his friendship with the US financier – a convicted sex offender who took his own life in a jail cell in August, aged 66, while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.
The duke told the said last November that he was willing to help the authorities into the investigation of Epstein.
However, US attorney Geoffrey Berman said prosecutors and the FBI have received no reply after contacting the duke’s lawyers.
What have the US lawyers said?
Ms Bloom, a US lawyer who represents five women who say they were abused by Epstein, said the duke should “do the right thing”.
She told BBC Newsnight: “I’m glad that Geoffrey Berman has gone public to try to embarrass Prince Andrew, who made one statement and then behind closed doors is doing something very different.
“The five Epstein victims who I represent are outraged and disappointed at Prince Andrew’s behaviour here.”
Buckingham Palace said the prince’s legal team was dealing with the issue and it would not be commenting further.
Ms Bloom added: “If Prince Andrew truly has done nothing wrong then it’s incumbent upon him to go and speak to the FBI at a time that’s convenient for him and say what he knows.
“Perhaps he can help bring other people to justice.”
Another US lawyer representing some of Epstein’s accusers, Gloria Allred, said she had sent a letter to Prince Andrew’s home urging him to co-operate but hadn’t received a response.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “No response is the same as zero co-operation. This is ridiculous. It’s just not acceptable.”
She added: “Prince Andrew has a moral obligation to volunteer to speak to law enforcement – that’s what he said he would do.”
‘Further insensitivity’ from Andrew
So what, one wonders, has Prince Andrew been thinking?
Under pressure in November, he issued a statement in which he pledged that he would assist any “appropriate” law enforcement agency with their inquiries, if required.
He has been required. One must suppose that the FBI has made its requests perfectly plain: it would like to speak to him about his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein.
And yet, as we now learn, in the two months since he made that statement Prince Andrew has provided “zero co-operation” to the FBI.
As if this man’s reputation was not sufficiently damaged by his inept Newsnight interview, he has now demonstrated further insensitivity in failing to make himself available to those inquiring into the Epstein story.
Andrew has repeatedly declared that no impropriety occurred during the course of his long-term friendship with Epstein.
The implication of that is that he has nothing of any significance to hide. One might reasonably suppose that he would therefore be wholly prepared to assist US investigators in their attempts to untangle the world in which Epstein operated.
And yet he hasn’t, so far, done so. Little wonder that officials at Buckingham Palace are attempting to distance themselves from him, saying that it is a matter for Andrew’s legal team.
One senses that within Buckingham Palace there is exasperation that, yet again, the Queen’s second son appears to be unable to conduct himself in an appropriate manner.
What allegations is Prince Andrew facing?
Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, says she was trafficked to London by Epstein in 2001, when she was 17, and forced to have sex with Prince Andrew.
Prince Andrew has emphatically denied any form of sexual contact or relationship with her and said any claim to the contrary is false and without foundation.
in November that he had no recollection of ever meeting the woman, who was previously known as Virginia Roberts.
In the interview, Prince Andrew said he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency”.
He also said he would consider giving evidence under oath “if push came to shove and the legal advice was to do so”.
What was Prince Andrew’s relationship with Epstein?
Prince Andrew told the BBC that he had first met Epstein through his girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell in 1999 but it was a “stretch” to say they were close friends and they saw each other “a maximum of three times a year”.
He acknowledged he had stayed on Epstein’s private island, visited his home in Palm Beach, Florida, and travelled on his private plane.
The duke said he did not regret their friendship – which led to Epstein attending events at Windsor Castle and Sandringham – because it had “some seriously beneficial outcomes”.
He said he was unaware of an arrest warrant against Epstein when he invited him to Princess Beatrice’s 18th birthday party at Windsor Castle in 2006.
However he admitted it was wrong of him to visit Epstein, who was jailed in Florida in 2008 for procuring a minor for prostitution, at his home in 2010, after his conviction.
Where is the FBI with its Epstein investigation?
US prosecutor Mr Berman spoke on Monday about the progress of the sex trafficking investigation and said it was looking at possible “conspirators” who had worked alongside Epstein procuring girls for the financier’s sexual gratification.
“Jeffrey Epstein couldn’t have done what he did without the assistance of others, and I can assure you that the investigation is moving forward,” he said.
British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell is one of those who is under FBI investigation, according to US media, over possible crimes linked to the sex trafficking charges.
Ms Maxwell, a long-time Epstein friend, has not been accused by the authorities of wrongdoing. The inquiry is believed to be in the early stages and no new charges are pending.
No other names of those being investigated have been revealed.