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Prince Andrew’s criticisms of Virginia Giuffre may backfire, lawyers say

Virginia Giuffre

Prince Andrew’s criticisms of Virginia Giuffre may backfire, lawyers say

Prince Andrew’s attacks on Virginia Giuffre ’s character in an attempt to get her sexual assault lawsuit against him thrown out may fail and risk doing further damage to his reputation, British lawyers have said.

Having initially attempted to prevent service of the suit, which alleges that he sexually abused Giuffre when she was 17, the prince’s lawyers went on the offensive over the weekend in an attempt to get her “baseless” claim dismissed.

Their filings accuse Giuffre of seeking a “payday” at Andrew’s expense and contain references from friends and in newspaper articles to her being a “money hungry sex kitten” and recruiting girls for the convicted sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who died in custody in 2019, awaiting trial.

At the same time they argue that a 2009 settlement agreement between Giuffre and Epstein, formerly a friend of Andrew, absolves the prince from responsibility, a notion rejected by Giuffre’s lawyer.

Mark Stephens, a partner at Howard Kennedy and UK media law expert, said it would take a brave judge to dismiss the case and suggested Prince Andrew had potentially opened himself up to further embarrassment.

“He’s obviously got fed up with the criticism that he’s taken so he has instructed lawyers to engage,” said Stephens. “The problem of course, is that he’s now embarked on a route towards a case. He’s saying it should be struck out because she’s unreliable but also that he’s covered by the plea deal from Epstein in any event, which seemed to be sort of contradictory.

“The problem you’ve got is he clearly as a human being wants to explain himself, he wants to make clear that he’s not responsible but his only way of doing that is in the court hearing. And if he does that, he has to get into what he actually did with her, how did the photograph [with Giuffre] come to be taken etc [allies of Andrew have claimed the photo was faked and he says he has “no recollection” of meeting her] and she will undoubtedly give graphic and detailed evidence about what she says were their liaisons”.

Andrew, 61, has “absolutely and categorically” denied having sex with Giuffre but the allegations have already done huge damage to his reputation. The Queen’s second son stepped back from royal duties in 2019 in the aftermath of a disastrous interview with Emily Maitlis for BBC’s Newsnight in which he was perceived as unsympathetic towards Epstein’s victims.

His lawyers’ latest strategy risks exacerbating that perception, according to a senior partner at a leading London law firm, who described the allegations in the filings as a “smokescreen”.

The solicitor, who did not want to be named, said: “This looks like putting up a smokescreen to tarnish her [Giuffre’s] reputation but it has no legal relevance whatsoever. Whether or not she was complicit in assisting Epstein with his child abuse is neither here nor there when you consider the allegations against Prince Andrew, which are that he raped and molested her. However he tarnishes her character, it makes absolutely no difference to that issue.”

He said an English judge would ignore it and while there was more chance of US jurors being swayed by it, there was no guarantee.

“A jury might think, ‘This is an American citizen, and who’s this prince trying to blacken the character of one of our own?’, so it’s a high-risk strategy even with a jury, I would have thought,” he said.

In her lawsuit, Giuffre alleged the prince “stonewalled”, rejecting a request to explore alternative dispute resolution. The attempts to challenge service and jurisdiction further raised uncertainty about his level of engagement with the case but Richard Spafford, partner at Reed Smith, said it was “fairly standard” to try to stop the lawsuit in its tracks and only when those tactics failed, address the actual merits of the case.

“I can only assume that it’s been decided within his advisory team that, notwithstanding the fact that his application will attract publicity, that it’s nonetheless the appropriate step to take,” said Spafford. “On the basis of that there must be a view that these arguments raise the possibility that the case will be dismissed by the judge, or, alternatively, that the plaintiff may be more likely to conclude that it’s appropriate to settle it.”

Thomas Garner, partner at Fladgate, said the attacks on Giuffre showed the gloves were off even if it might do “irreparable” damage to the prince’s reputation. “If there was any doubt as to how he would handle the claim, this application makes it clear that if [the judge] doesn’t dismiss the claim then Prince Andrew intends to go on the attack,” he said.

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Governor Ortom Mourns Elder Statesman, Paul Unongo

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has expressed deep pains over the death of an elder statesman Dr Paul Unongo, saying “we have lost a pathfinder and leader of an inestimable value.”

Unongo, a former Minister of Power and Steel in the Second Republic, died at 87 in Jos, Plateau State on Tuesday.

Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Nathaniel Ikyur on Wednesday in Makurdi quoted his principal in a statement, describing Unongo him as a father figure who led the emancipation of the ordinary citizens without ethnic or religious barriers.

“The leadership role Unongo played in the political evolution of Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

“He was a mentor to many leaders of today who have great ideas for the socio-political and economic development of the country.

Ortom said Benue’s Iroko tree and one of the last icons of political leadership in Nigeria has fallen, adding that Unongo’s contributions to the politics of the country from post-independence till date cannot be quantified.

“Indeed the state has lost a leader and mentor. His death has created a vacuum that will be difficult to refill.

“We shall miss his intellect, great ideas, oratory prowess and immense capacity for mobilisation and organisation of the people.

“I am consoled that Unongo’s legacies of patriotism, pan Nigerian and philanthropy will endure.

“The state will do the needful to immortalise Unongo for his selfless services and contributions to the development of the state,”Ortom said.

He prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest and the immediate family the fortitude to bear the loss.

Unongo too from over Maitama Sule as the chairman of the Northern Elders’ Forum. In 2017.

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BREAKING: Court Jails Student Over Tweet On Aisha Buhari

An Abuja court has sent a university student, Aminu Muhammad, to prison over a post on Twitter mocking first lady Aisha Buhari.

The student, according to BBC Hausa Service, was sent to prison on Tuesday.

The student’s lawyer, CK Agu, told BBC that the judge has refused to grant his client bail.

Mr Aminu was remanded in prion custody till December 5, 2022, the lawyer said.

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Top ISWAP Commander Killed In Airstrike In Lake Chad Region

A top commander of the Islamic State of the West African Province (ISWAP), Muhammad Malik has been killed by troops of the air task force in the Lake Chad region.

Zagazola Makama, a publication focused on the Lake Chad region reported that Malik died on November 29 from the fatal injuries he sustained during the attack.

Nigerian troops were said to have launched a coordinated intelligence-led aerial and ground operation and targeted the jihadist group’s location in the Sabon Tumbun area of Lake Chad on November 24.

This attack was also said to have led to the killing of scores of fighters.

Malik is said to have been a member of the Shura Council in Marte before he went for a course in computer engineering and improvised explosive device (IED) making, sponsored by ISIS in Somalia.

On his return, he reportedly established IED training units where fighters were trained in deploying explosives during attacks.

In the last few months, the Nigerian military has been recording a series of successes in the fight against insurgency in the Lake Chad region and other northern states.

Troops had recently repelled an attack by insurgents at Wawa cantonment in Borgu LGA of Niger state as well as the killing of three commanders of ISWAP in Borno.

 

 

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