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Prince Andrew: Aides step up defence amid further details of sex allegations

Prince Andrew has returned to the UK as allegations that he had sexual relations with a teenage girl continued to swirl and Buckingham Palace issued a second denial of the claims.

The Queen’s second son was returning from a skiing trip in Switzerland after the emergence of further details about the allegations by a woman who claims she was used as a “sex slave” by one of his friends. The claim was denied robustly by royal aides.

The denial went further than a more limited statement issued by Buckingham Palace on Friday, following the naming of the Prince’s accuser as Virginia Roberts, who has three children and recently returned to the United States after living in Australia.

In its second statement, the Palace said it “emphatically denied” that the Duke of York “had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Virginia Roberts”. It added: “The allegations are false and without any foundation.”

The claims from Ms Roberts are part of a lawsuit before the American courts arising from the 2008 conviction on an underage sex charge of the multimillionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein, who is a former friend of the Duke.

Two Sunday newspapers published further details of the claimed meetings between Ms Roberts and Andrew, who is fifth in line to the throne. The fightback by royal aides is viewed as a recognition of the potential of the claims against the Prince, who is not a party to the US case and thus has no automatic right to respond, to damage both him and the Royal Family.

In documents laid before a Florida court, Ms Roberts alleges that she slept with the Prince on three occasions – in London, New York and during an “orgy” on a private Caribbean island owned by Mr Epstein – between 1999 and 2002.

The lawsuit arises from claims that a non-prosecution agreement secured on Mr Epstein’s behalf by his lawyers, which saw more serious potential federal charges against him dropped, was struck after the financier used his “social and political connections” to secure a more lenient plea bargain.

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