The woman who says she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew while underage has outlined the accusations in her own words for the first time, in newly filed US court papers.
Virginia Roberts, referred to in court as Jane Doe #3, claims she was compelled to have sex with the Prince by his friend, the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, in 2001 - when she was 17 years old. Mr Epstein, a former hedge fund tycoon, was convicted for sex offences in 2008.
This is the first time Ms Roberts has given her own account of the allegations to the court in Florida. When she met Prince Andrew, she claims, she was aware that he was a British royal, but knew him only as "Andy". In her sworn affidavit, she said Buckingham Palace's forceful denial of her accusations was both "false" and "hurtful".
"I did have sexual contact with him [Prince Andrew] as I have described here - under oath," Ms Roberts said. "Given what he knows and has seen, I was hoping that he would simply voluntarily tell the truth about everything. I hope my attorneys can interview Prince Andrew under oath about the contacts and that he will tell the truth."
Ms Roberts' lawyers also included, in the legal bundle submitted to the court today, a letter addressed to Prince Andrew, inviting the 54-year-old to respond to the allegations in person and under oath. The letter, dated 14 January, includes a photograph of the Prince with his arm around Ms Roberts, which she says was taken by Mr Epstein in 2001.
The letter also refers to alleged "subsequent interactions" between Andrew and Ms Roberts in New York later that year. In her affidavit, Ms Roberts reasserted her claim that she was forced to have sexual relations with the Prince on three occasions, one of which was at an orgy.
The letter sent by Ms Roberts' lawyers to Prince Andrew
The letter to Prince Andrew was a "formal request", it said, "to interview you, under oath, regarding interactions that you had with Jane Doe No 3 beginning in approximately early 2001... The interview could be conducted at a time and place of your choosing, and with your co-operation, I believe the interview could be completed in two hours or less."
Ms Roberts' lawyers say the letter was returned to them, apparently having been refused by its recipient. Ms Roberts said in her affidavit that she had asked her legal team to "pursue all reasonable and legitimate means" to bring criminal charges against the "powerful people" with whom she had sex at Mr Epstein's behest.
Buckingham Palace quickly and strenuously denied the renewed allegations. When Ms Roberts' claims first emerged, the Palace described them as "categorically untrue", "false" and "without any foundation", denying the Prince and his accuser had "any form of sexual contact or relationship".
In 2011 Andrew stepped down as UK trade envoy amid controversy over his close relationship with Epstein. The Prince is expected to appear before the cameras and address the accusations against him during his annual reception at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
- The Independent