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Prince Andrew can be sued by Virginia Giuffre for sexual assault, says court

The decision was made on Wednesday

A New York court has ruled Virginia Giuffre's civil lawsuit against the Duke of York can go ahead.

US Judge Lewis Kaplan has refused to dismiss the case after Prince Andrew's lawyers argued that his accuser's civil lawsuit should be dropped based on a previous $500,000 (£371,000) settlement with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in 2009. 

It now means the Duke will face a civil sex case trial. 

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WATCH: Prince Andrew civil case - what happens next? 

In the conclusion of his written ruling, Judge Kaplan said: "For the foregoing reasons, defendant's motion to dismiss the complaint or for a more definite statement is denied in all respects.

"Given the court's limited task of ruling on this motion, nothing in this opinion or previously in these proceedings properly may be construed as indicating a view with respect to the truth of the charges or countercharges or as to the intention of the parties in entering into the 2009 Agreement."

Lawyers for Ms Giuffre had filed the civil suit seeking unspecified damages at a federal court, where the court documents claim she was "lent out for sexual purposes" by Epstein including while she was still a minor under US law.

Andrew's lawyer had argued during a video conference hearing that the confidential agreement she had previously entered into with Epstein, who she claims trafficked her to have sex with the Duke, ended her right to pursue anyone else.

MORE: Prince Andrew served with civil lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre

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The document, which was made public on Monday 3 January, detailed how Ms Giuffre received the payout 13 years ago and agreed to "release, acquit, satisfy and forever discharge" the disgraced financier and "any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant".

Ms Giuffre is suing the Queen's son for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager.

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Andrew has denied all allegations

The 38-year-old claims she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew when she was aged 17 and a minor under US law.

Andrew has denied all the allegations.

There has already been speculation the Duke may be encouraged to reach an agreement with his accuser in a bid to avoid the trial being held. If the hearing does go ahead it is not clear whether Andrew will give evidence in person, via a video link or decline to participate.

The Duke stepped back from public duties in November 2019, following his TV interview with BBC Newsnight, which focused on his connections to Epstein. 

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Virginia in 2019

Concluding his arguments before the judge made the decision, the Duke's lawyer said: "[Ms Giuffre] has given plenty of interviews all over the world, then files this lawsuit. It is unfair, it is unjust, it should be dismissed."

The lawyer acting on behalf of Ms Giuffre, David Boies, had told the virtual court hearing of the Southern District of New York, that only the parties of the settlement agreement, Epstein and Ms Giuffre and their associates, could benefit from it, and not a "third party" like Andrew.

The lawyer told the hearing that the father of two would not be a "potential defendant" as referred to in the settlement, as the 2009 lawsuit made no allegation the Duke had trafficked individuals for illegal sexual activity.

"He was somebody to whom the girls were trafficked, that's a different criteria," they alleged.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman said on Wednesday: "We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter." 

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