Judge strikes out Andrew sex claims
Claims the Duke of York had sex with an underage teenager have been struck from US civil court records following a federal judge's ruling.
The allegations made by Virginia Roberts - who claimed she was the sex slave of Andrew's former friend Jeffrey Epstein - were vehemently denied by the Duke.
But they brought intense scrutiny on his past relationship with Epstein, a billionaire financier and convicted sex offender, and raised questions about his judgment.
Andrew is understood to have been told about the latest development last night but Buckingham Palace has declined to comment.
Earlier this year the Palace issued a strongly worded statement refuting the allegations: "It is emphatically denied that the Duke of York had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts. The allegations made are false and without any foundation."
Ms Roberts, a US citizen, waived her anonymity in an interview with The Mail On Sunday in 2011, in which she claimed she had been sexually exploited by Epstein.
In the US court papers, she went further and alleged that more than ten years ago she "was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor'' in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein where an orgy took place.
The accusation was contained in a motion filed in December in a Florida court by Ms Roberts who wanted to join an existing lawsuit, launched by two other alleged Epstein victims, against federal prosecutors' handling of the financier's case.
Epstein was sentenced to 18 months in 2008 for soliciting a minor for prostitution but lawyers for the women claim a secret plea deal he struck with prosecutors, granting him - and any potential co-conspirators - immunity from further prosecution, violated their clients' rights
Federal prosecutors opposed allowing Ms Roberts and another woman - known as Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4 respectively - from joining the existing lawsuit.
In his judgment US District Judge Kenneth Marra wrote: "Justice does not require amendment in this instance."
He added that the sex abuse details had no bearing on the lawsuit's goal of reopening the Epstein non-prosecution agreement.
Sexual allegations made in the court papers against Andrew and prominent lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a former Harvard Law School professor, were also ordered to be struck from the court record.
In his judgment the judge wrote: "The factual details regarding with whom and where the Jane Does engaged in sexual activities are immaterial and impertinent to this central claim. These unnecessary details shall be stricken."
Mr Dershowitz, who represented Epstein in the 2008 case and denied the allegations, said in a statement the decision was "a vindication of my position" and said it should serve as a warning to lawyers against making unsupported allegations.
Brad Edwards, a lawyer for Ms Roberts and Jane Doe 4, said the women could still participate in the case later and that the sex abuse allegations may surface again as evidence. The judge has not ruled on whether the claims were true or false, or if they may be admissible in the future.
Mr Edwards said: "We look forward to those later stages."