Friends of the Duke of York have said allegations he lobbied the US government to try to secure Jeffrey Epstein a "favourable" plea deal are "a straightforward untruth, no ifs, no buts".
In a scathing attack after the latest release of court documents from America, a friend told The Telegraph "precious few" claims against Prince Andrew had stood up, adding "allegations are not the same as facts."
Two alleged victims of the multi-billionaire financier claim Prince Andrew had tried to intervene to secure his former friend a so-called "sweetheart plea deal" back in 2008, new papers show.
The women - named only as Jane Doe 1 and 2 - appealed for the release of more files which they say would prove the prince, as well as other high-profile friends of Epstein, "lobbied" the US government for a lenient plea agreement.
In 2008, Epstein plead guilty to a reduced charge of soliciting a minor for prostitution. His 18-month sentence - during which he worked from his Miami home - was vastly shorter than if he had been convicted of more serious sex charges.
But the two unnamed women and alleged victims of Epstein claimed: "[They are] seeking documents regarding Epstein's lobbying efforts to persuade the government to give him a favorable plea arrangement, including efforts on his behalf by Prince Andrew and former Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
"They have alleged these materials are needed to prove their allegations that, after Epstein signed the non-prosecution agreement his performance was delayed while he used his significant social and political connections to lobby the justice department to obtain a more favourable plea deal."
Their comments emerged in papers from a now settled 2015 defamation lawsuit filed by Virginia Giuffre, 36, one of Epstein's alleged victims who claimed Prince Andrew was among the powerful people she was persuaded to have sex with when aged just 17.
Prince Andrew has repeatedly denied the claims.
The Duke moved to distance himself from his former friend after the conviction, meeting with him on only one occasion in New York in 2010 to formally cut ties.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a friend of the 60-year-old prince said: "The US Federal Appeals court said [in] 2019, these allegations should be treated with "extreme caution".
"Allegations are not the same as facts, which is the essential premise on which justice works.
"Let's see if these allegations stand up, because precious few about the Duke do. Where's the proof?"
Ghislaine Maxwell, 58, the British socialite and former girlfriend of Epstein, had fought unsuccessfully to keep the files secret.
In another part of her deposition, Giuffre is asked by her lawyers in 2016 if Prince Andrew would have "relevant information" that could help investigators.
"Yes, he would know a lot of the truth," she said of the Duke. "I don't know how much he'd be able to help you with, but seeing as he's in a lot of trouble himself these days I think he might, so I think he might be valuable."
Giuffre, now 36, claims that she was forced to have sex with Epstein, who in turn forced her to have sex with a number of his associates.
"Epstein instructed Jane Doe to give Prince Andrew whatever he demanded and required her to report back to him on the details of the sexual abuse," the lawyers alleged, insinuating Epstein was potentially using her to gather incriminating evidence on the Prince.
It is believed the Jane Doe here is Giuffre.
Giuffre in other parts of the testimony says the now-famous photo of Prince Andrew with his arm around her waist in a London mansion was taken by Epstein on her Kodak camera.
She says she gave the picture to the FBI during their investigations in 2011.