Lawyers in Duke of York case sue
Lawyers representing the woman who claims she had under-age sex with the Duke of York have launched a defamation lawsuit against one of her alleged abusers after he branded them "villains".
Bradley J Edwards and Paul G Cassell begun their legal action after Alan Dershowitz said in an interview with CNN they were the "villains" in the case and had failed to adequately investigate their client's allegations against him.
The lawyers have said their reputations have been defamed by such comments and are seeking an unspecified amount of damages.
Andrew has faced mounting controversy after he was named in US civil court documents as having sex with a woman, identified in reports as Virginia Roberts, on three separate occasions when she was a minor.
She is said to have been "procured" for him by convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, a billionaire American financier, who she accuses of using her as a "sex slave".
Andrew vehemently denies the allegations against him.
The Duke's niece Zara Phillips was questioned about how her uncle was coping during a working visit to Australia's Gold Coast but told reporters: "I'm not going to answer that."
Mr Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School and a former member of OJ Simpson's legal team, is accused of having sex with Ms Roberts on numerous occasions when she was a minor.
In response he has filed a detailed rebuttal of the woman's claims to the court.
The court document says the lawyer has multiple witnesses to refute the allegations and when interviewed yesterday by the US television morning show Today said: "I welcome a full investigation. I'm not trying to silence her. I've challenged her to repeat the statement to the press so that I can sue for defamation.
"I have challenged her to file rape criminal charges against me because if she does, she exposes herself to criminal prosecution."
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 - a former friend of the Duke.
In the US court papers, she goes further and alleges that between 1999 and 2002 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 is contained in a motion filed last month in a Florida court by Ms Roberts who wants to join an existing lawsuit, launched by two other alleged Epstein victims, against federal prosecutors' handling of the financier's case.
Epstein was jailed for 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.
In a strongly-worded statement Buckingham Palace has said: "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."