Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson once visited the Bahamas mansion of Peter Nygard in 2000. Photograph: Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA
Fashion executive accused in rape lawsuit reportedly hosted Prince Andrew at Bahamas estate
Peter Nygard is accused of luring women to the property
Photos from 20 years ago show the royals visiting the site
Sat 15 Feb 2020 18.50 GMTLast modified on Sat 15 Feb 2020 18.52 GMT
A millionaire fashion executive accused of raping 10 women and girls at his Bahamas mansion reportedly hosted Prince Andrew and his family at the property in 2000.
A class action lawsuit lodged in New York City claims that Peter Nygard lured “young, impressionable, and often impoverished children and women” to his Bahamas property with cash payments and promises of modeling opportunities, only to then “assault, rape, and sodomize them”.
Nygard, 78, has hosted celebrities and politicians at the property, near the Bahamian capital of Nassau. Photos credited to Nygard’s website appear to show such visitors included Prince Andrew, accompanied by his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson and their two daughters, 20 years ago.
One photo shows Nygard talking with a shorts-wearing Andrew as the two stroll together. In another picture Nygard is posing with Sarah and her daughters, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.
The link is a potential further embarrassment for Prince Andrew, who has stepped back from public duties following an outcry over his friendship with Jeffrey Epstein, the financier and sex offender who died in a New York cell last year as he awaited trial on sex trafficking charges.
The prince, who has withdrawn from public life, categorically denies any form of sexual misconduct and has insisted he is “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency” investigating matters relating to Epstein.
The Canadian businessman’s eponymous fashion empire has made him a multimillionaire. He has been previously accused of sexual harassment and tax evasion.
In 2018, Bahamian authorities seized his mansion, Nygard Cay, following a legal battle with environmental groups over plans to dredge the sea floor in order to expand the property’s size.
This latest lawsuit, lodged by US law firm DiCello Levitt Gutzler, alleges that Nygard used his powerful position, along with drugs, alcohol and physical force, to lure girls as young as 14-years-old to “pamper parties” and then rape them.
Of the 10 people cited as victims in the lawsuit, eight were teenage girls and two were adult employees on the Nassau estate. At least two of the alleged victims required medical treatment following their ordeals, the lawsuit states.
Nygard’s company is also a target of the lawsuit which accuses it of essentially committing sex trafficking by abetting and covering up the actions of its founder and chairman. Threats and bribery were used to prevent the rapes from being reported, the complaint alleges.
A spokesman for Nygard has denied the claims in the lawsuit, telling the New York Post they are “just the latest in a 10-plus-year string of attempts to try to destroy the reputation of a man through false statements. The allegations are completely false, without foundation, and are vigorously denied.”
The Guardian contacted Nygard’s company for comment and also attempted to put questions to Buckingham Palace.
No need to fly flag on Prince Andrew's birthday, councils told
Raising flag would be ‘inappropriate’ after prince stepped back from public duties over Epstein scandal, says MP
Guardian staff and agencies
Fri 7 Feb 2020 03.05 GMT
The British government has changed the policy of flying flags on royal birthdays, with local authorities no longer required to raise the Union Flag for Prince Andrew.
Officials earlier said they were considering how the policy applied “in changing circumstances, such as when members of the royal family step back from their duties”, according to a spokesman for Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The government later said it would be advising councils “that there is no requirement to fly flags on the 19th February following the decision by the Duke of York to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future”.
The Sun newspaper had published a leaked email sent to local authorities reminding them to fly the British flag for Andrew’s 60th birthday on 19 February.
The Queen’s second son withdrew from public life and royal duties after a disastrous television interview defending his friendship with the late US sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
Flying flags on government buildings in his honour “would be wholly inappropriate”, Labour MP Wes Streeting told the newspaper.
Johnson’s spokesman said the email, sent by a civil servant in the local government ministry, was an “administrative email about long-standing policy”.
He said discussions were under way between the ministry and the royal household about a change.
Designated days for flying the British flag on UK government buildings include the birthdays of the Queen and her husband, Prince Philip, their wedding day, the birthdays of their four children and of their grandson Prince William and his wife Kate.
Andrew has strenuously denied claims he had sex with 17-year-old Virginia Giuffre, who was procured by Epstein, a financier found dead in prison in August last year while awaiting charges of trafficking minors.
But there was a public outcry after the prince gave a BBC interview in November, where he failed to adequately explain why he did not cut off ties with his friend earlier, or express much empathy with Epstein’s alleged victims.
A US prosecutor said last month Andrew had provided “zero co-operation” to the investigation into Epstein’s activities.
On Thursday Buckingham Palace said the Duke of York had asked to defer a military promotion to Admiral until he is able to fully resume royal duties.
“By convention, the Duke of York would be in line for military promotion on his 60th birthday,” the spokeswoman said.
“Following the decision by His Royal Highness to step back from public duties for the foreseeable future, the Duke of York has asked the Ministry of Defence if this promotion might be deferred until such time that His Royal Highness returns to public duty.”
A spokeswoman for Westminster Abbey said the Duke’s birthday would still be marked by the traditional ringing of bells. “There are no plans to change these arrangements,” she said.
With Press Association and Agence France-Presse
Claims that Prince Andrew failed to respond to FBI likely political, say prosecutors
Andrew has said he is ‘angry and bewildered’ and denies reports that he has been contacted about the Jeffrey Epstein investigation
Prince Andrew has said he’s “more than happy to talk” to the FBI on the Jeffrey Epstein investigation.
Sat 1 Feb 2020 09.00 GMTLast modified on Sat 1 Feb 2020 09.03 GMT
Claims made this week that Prince Andrew failed to respond to an FBI investigation into Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged sex trafficking conspiracy were likely issued by US investigators as an appeal for political support, former sex crime prosecutors say.
Earlier this week, US attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman took the extraordinary step of announcing from the steps of Epstein’s Upper East Side mansion in New York, that prosecutors and the FBI had repeatedly contacted the Duke of York’s lawyers to follow up on his previous pledge that he was “willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency”.
“It’s fair for people to know whether Prince Andrew has followed through with that public commitment,” Berman said, adding that to date he had “provided zero cooperation”.
Andrew, who has been removed from royal duties, was subsequently reported to be “angry and bewildered” over the claim he has failed to cooperate and denied that he’d been approached. Andrew is “more than happy to talk”, sources told the Guardian, pouring water on any suggestion that he was going back on a commitment to help.
Between the claims and counter-claims from the British royal and US law enforcement lies a broad expanse of uncertainty on how the investigation into alleged co-conspirators will proceed after wealthy financier Epstein killed himself in detention in August while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges.
Despite Andrew’s assurances, any sit-down with US investigators would likely require political will to pursue effectively as much as legal argument, experts say, as the prince is a high profile international figure who lives overseas. And that political will might be unlikely to be forthcoming, argues former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy.
“At best they could issue a grand jury subpoena but to have it enforced is a political question. Even if they did charge him, how much effort would they put into extraditing him? That’s a nightmare on a good day. To enforce it in a foreign country you have to have permission of the foreign country and I don’t see the Queen saying, ‘Oh yes, we should force my son to submit himself to a foreign grand jury’,” Murphy said.
Any FBI interview Andrew agrees to give would be voluntary at this stage. His lawyers would arrange a date, time and place , or he could provide answers to written questions. US investigators could interview him in Britain.
Eric Baum, of New York law firm Eisenberg & Baum, who has represented victims in civil sexual harassment cases against celebrity chef Mario Batali and American Apparel’s Dov Charney, says any meeting could place the prince in legal jeopardy.
“If he comes in under oath, he will be required to tell the truth and provide specific details which could have criminal and political implications for him,” Baum said.
The questions for Andrew – should he agree to testify under oath – would likely be tailored to information they already have on him, said former FBI agent Jane Mason.
“The fascinating part of this is whether he could be charged with a federal crime. You have to assume that investigators have conducted many, many interviews and reviewed thousands of documents, so they’d know the answers to any questions they want to ask,” Mason said.
“The complicated part is that Andrew is overseas – prosecutors would have a lot more power to force an unwilling witness to testify here. But with added media pressure things might change. Failing to co-operate is not a good visual for him at all.”
A key element has been allegations from Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has said Epstein pressured her into having sex with Andrew three times at Epstein’s request, including once in London in 2001.
Andrew has denied any knowledge that Epstein was sexually abusing teenage girls.. Andrew told the BBC in an interview he had “no recollection” of meeting Giuffre, and said on the night the alleged sex occurred he was at a Pizza Express in Woking.
But she remains a major facet of the investigation.
“I guarantee you she has more information, even if she hasn’t said it yet,” Murphy said. “No matter what, Andrew has got a king-size PR problem. That, to me, is why he’s been removed from royal duties. It’s to protect him, not punish him.”
Murphy worked with Paul Cassell, a Florida lawyer who represented several of Epstein’s alleged victims around the time the financier’s original federal investigation was resolved in a 2007 Florida state deal that required Epstein serve a brief sentence in Palm Beach .
At that time, she recalls, she believed political pressure was being brought to bear on the case. “It was represented as a plea deal that everyone was on board with, but it made a lot of people very anxious,” she said.
Thirteen years on, similar anxieties that permeated Epstein’s original deal exist now. Because of the high profiles of the men whose names have surfaced in connection with Epstein, any attempt to bring new charges is ultimately political.
“There are some ways to bring pressure to bear, but they’re more diplomatic than legal ... I don’t think there’s the political will to do it,” she added.
Prince Andrew ‘angry’ at claims he is not cooperating on Epstein inquiry
Sources say Duke of York has not been approached by US investigators to speak
Wed 29 Jan 2020 11.39 GMTLast modified on Wed 29 Jan 2020 21.35 GMT
Prince Andrew is said to be ‘bewildered’ at claims of ‘zero cooperation’ in the US investigation.
The Duke of York is said to be “angry and bewildered” about claims he has failed to cooperate with US investigators over the Jeffrey Epstein inquiry, saying he has not been approached to speak about the case.
The New York state attorney, Geoffrey Berman, has accused Prince Andrew of “zero cooperation” and not responding to requests by the FBI and US lawyers for an interview over his friendship with the disgraced financier.
Andrew is “more than happy to talk [but] hasn’t been approached by them yet,” sources insisted.
Buckingham Palace refused to comment on Berman’s claims, made at a news conference in New York on Monday, saying the matter was being dealt with by the prince’s legal team.
According to sources, Andrew is “committed to the legal process”. One reportedly said: “He is angry about the way this is being portrayed and bewildered as to why this was said in New York.”
Andrew stepped down from royal duties in November after his disastrous interview on BBC’s Newsnight over his relationship with Epstein. He was criticised for failing to show any regret over his friendship with the financier, who took his own life in prison while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.
Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein, has alleged she was instructed to have sex with Andrew on three occasion from the age of 17. The prince categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with her.
At the time Andrew stood down, he insisted: “I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency.”
Berman, who is overseeing the investigation, told reporters outside Epstein’s New York mansion that “to date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation”. The US investigation is looking at possible “conspirators” who worked with Epstein.
Berman’s comments prompted furious responses from lawyers of Epstein’s alleged victims who are involved in a separate civil lawsuit. Lisa Bloom, who represents five women, said Berman had been left with “no choice” but to comment publicly about Andrew’s alleged lack of cooperation because he did not have the power to subpoena the royal as part of the criminal investigation.
A source close to Andrew is reported as saying: “The duke is not under any obligation to talk to lawyers representing alleged victims of Epstein at the moment, but he is totally willing to talk to any law enforcement agencies, be they the police or FBI.”
Any FBI interview Andrew agrees to give would be voluntary at this stage. Should he be willing to comply with a request, his lawyers would arrange a date, time and place to speak to them, or he could provide answers to written questions. US investigators could interview him in the UK.
Should he refuse any interview, the US authorities could make a mutual legal assistance request to the UK, a formal process that allows cooperation between states when evidence needs to be gathered in a prosecution or investigation of criminal offences.
Any MLA would have to be approved by the Home Office. If approved, Andrew could have to appear in a UK court.
If the FBI was treating him as a witness it could ask for him to be compelled to go to a UK court to give evidence under oath. If he was being treated as a potential suspect, or received legal advice he might incriminate himself, he would have privilege against self-incrimination.
It would be up to the judge in the UK to decide if the hearing was in open court.
If prosecutors wanted to extradite Andrew, they would have to obtain an arrest warrant or a grand jury indictment to make a request to the UK.
Andrew has denied witnessing any suspicious behaviour by Epstein.
Prince Andrew told to 'stop playing games' over Epstein inquiry
US lawyer representing alleged victims tells duke to ‘do the right thing’ and assist inquiry
Tue 28 Jan 2020 08.18 GMTLast modified on Tue 28 Jan 2020 09.00 GMT
A US lawyer has called on Prince Andrew to “stop playing games” and assist authorities with their investigation into the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking inquiry.
Lisa Bloom, who represents five of Epstein’s alleged victims, said it was time for the Duke of York to “do the right thing” and speak with investigators in the US.
The US attorney Geoffrey Berman said at a news conference on Monday that Andrew had provided “zero cooperation”, despite his lawyers being contacted by prosecutors and the FBI as part of the investigation.
Bloom told BBC News on Tuesday: “It is time for anyone with information to come forward and answer questions.
“Prince Andrew himself is accused of sexual misconduct and he also spent a great deal of time with Jeffrey Epstein. So it’s time to stop playing games and to come forward to do the right thing and answer questions.”
She said Berman had been left with “no choice” but to comment publicly about Andrew’s alleged lack of cooperation into the investigation.
She said: “He [Berman] doesn’t have the power to subpoena Prince Andrew as part of the criminal investigation, so what else can he do except use the power of the press to come forward publicly and say: ‘You know what, Prince Andrew, you said you would fully cooperate with law enforcement and you have not done it.’”
Berman, who is overseeing the Epstein investigation, told reporters outside the disgraced financier’s New York mansion that “to date, Prince Andrew has provided zero cooperation”.
Buckingham Palace was not commenting on the matter, but a source said: “This issue is being dealt with by the Duke of York’s legal team.”
Andrew stepped down from royal duties in November following a disastrous Newsnight interview on his association with Epstein. At the time, he said: “I am willing to help any appropriate law enforcement agency.”
Following the interview, he was accused of failing to show regret over his friendship with the disgraced financier, who took his own life in prison while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges.
Virginia Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein, said in an interview with BBC Panorama that she was left “horrified and ashamed” after an alleged sexual encounter with Andrew in London in 2001.
The duke categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Giuffre.