Disgraced royal Prince Andrew is said to be amassing a war chest worth as much as £10million in preparation to launch a legal challenge to his settlement with Virginia Giuffre over allegations she was forced to have sex with him when she was 17.
The Duke of York, 62, who is no longer a working royal and is not allowed to use his HRH title after reaching a deal in which he paid out to Ms Giuffre while not accepting any culpability, has always denied her claims.
He is expected to argue that he never met Ms Giuffre and that the infamous photo of the two of them is a fake.
It comes as shamed sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell claims she has ‘no memory’ of Prince Andrew and Virginia Guiffre meeting in her first video interview given since her conviction.
The infamous photo of the Duke of York (left), Virginia Giuffre (middle), and Ghislaine Maxwell (right)
Prince Andrew denied ever meeting Ms Giuffre in a disastrous Newsnight interview in 2021
However, several high-profile forensic experts who have examined the photo, in which Prince Andrew has his arm around a young Ms Giuffre, have said they believe it to be real.
Ms Giuffre alleges she was groomed by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and associate Ghislaine Maxwell, and forced to have sex with him on several occasions.
Prince Andrew denied ever meeting Ms Giuffre in a disastrous Newsnight interview in 2021. He famously claimed he was at a Pizza Express in Woking at the time of one of the incidents mentioned by his accuser.
A royal source told the Sun that Andrew now wants to ‘prove’ his innocence in a US court.
They said: ‘He was pressured into settling the case to avoid overshadowing the Platinum Jubilee and has paid a heavy price, personally and professionally.
‘The King is happy for him to pursue this.
‘As Head of State, he can’t back him publicly, but Andrew is still his brother and he wants the best for him.’
Andrew is reported to be more financially secure than ever after he and ex-wife Sarah Ferguson sold their Swiss chalet for £10 million last year.
The Queen is also said to have left her son an inheritance worth ‘several million’, which he may also use to fund his case.
It comes as it was reported this week that Prince Andrew is pushing his brother, King Charles, to allow him to use the title HRH again.
But top lawyers have dismissed his ambitions and said he should be ‘grateful that he is not in jail’, the Mirror reports.
It comes as in an exclusive account to the Mail on Sunday of her first broadcast interview since she was jailed, Maxwell, 61, has insisted that she has no recollection of Andrew and Virginia spending time together in the UK or the US.
The infamous snap of the pair, which was reportedly taken in March 2001 at Maxwell’s apartment, was given by Ms Guiffre to The Mail on Sunday in February 2011.
Ms Giuffre, previously Roberts, claimed she was forced to have sex with the Prince when she was 17, having been trafficked by convicted paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, who in 2019 was found dead in his prison cell.
In the revelatory interview, extracts of which will appear on Jeremy Kyle’s talk show tomorrow night at 7pm, Maxwell says: ‘I have no memory of them meeting. And I don’t think that picture is real.
‘It is a fake. I don’t believe it is real for a second, in fact I am sure it is not.
‘There has never been an original, there is no photograph’, she told The Mail on Sunday.
Shamed sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured in the first video speaking from prison) has claimed she has ‘no memory’ of Prince Andrew and Virginia Guiffre – and that the infamous picture of them together is fake
Who is Daphne Barak?
Daphne Barak is a renowned interviewer and documentary film maker, whose subjects have included Nelson Mandela, Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton, Johnny Depp and Michael Jackson among many others.
Daphne’s best-selling book Saving Amy, based on her months’ filming with Amy Winehouse and her family, is being adapted into a scripted eight part TV series by Halcyon Studios.
She added: ‘There is no original of that photo, (just) copies of copies and parts of it, according to some experts, look like it has been photoshopped. I don’t remember her in my home,’ according to The Mail on Sunday.
Announcing the show, called ‘Ghislaine Behind Bars’, Kyle told viewers: ‘Maxwell lifts the lid on Epstein, Prince Andrew and even our late Queen. This is Ghislaine Maxwell behind bars and in her own words.’
The interview comes as Prince Andrew is to launch a dramatic bid to overturn the multi-million-pound settlement he struck with Ms Guiffre in an attempt to get her to retract her sexual assault allegations and possibly secure an apology.
The Duke of York has taken action after Ms Guiffre dropped her lawsuit against Epstein’s former lawyer Alan Dershowitz last year, who she also accused of sexual assault.
She said she ‘may have made a mistake’ in identifying him.
Maxwell, who is serving a 20-year sentence for procuring girls for her late lover and sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, said ‘it’s entirely possible’ that Andrew met Virginia as she travelled with Epstein.
Prince Andrew is to launch a dramatic bid to overturn the multi-million-pound settlement he struck with Ms Guiffre in an attempt to get her to retract her sexual assault allegations
Announcing the show, called ‘Ghislaine Behind Bars’, Kyle told viewers: ‘Maxwell lifts the lid on Epstein.’ Maxwell pictured with Epstein in an undated photograph
‘It wasn’t something so outrageously out of left field that it couldn’t have happened.
‘But the photo doesn’t appear to be real. And I don’t recall it being taken. I have no memory of Virginia and Prince Andrew meeting.’
In February last year, Andrew agreed to pay Virginia, 39, a settlement to drop her civil action but accepted no blame and continues to deny any wrongdoing.
But the scandal has significantly damaged his reputation and made him an outcast from the Royal Family. He was stripped of his military titles and asked not to use his HRH title.
New evidence, as seen by The Mail on Sunday, has led him to consult with lawyers in the US in the hope of forcing a retraction.
Those close to Andrew have claimed he wanted to fight the allegations in court but was persuaded to agree to a deal by Palace forces who feared the negative publicity of the case would overshadow the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
The revelatory interview, which will be aired on Jeremy Kyle’s TalkTV show tomorrow night at 7pm
The Duke of York has taken action after Ms Guiffre dropped her lawsuit against Epstein’s former lawyer Alan Dershowitz last year
TIMELINE OF THE INFAMOUS VIRGINIA GUIFFRE AND PRINCE ANDREW PHOTOGRAPH
March 2001 – Infamous photograph of Virginia, Ghislaine and Prince Andrew is reportedly taken at Ghislaine’s home in London.
May 2001 – Naomi Campbell hosted a boat party in the French Riviera with Jeffrey Epstein, Virginia, Ghislaine Maxwell all attending.
February 2011 – Virginia is approached by the Mail On Sunday and produces the picture.
She claimed the photograph was taken in March 2001, two months before the boat party in St Tropez.
She said she had sex with Andrew three times while a teenager, which the Duke denies.
The photographs are published by the Mail On Sunday.
November 2019 – Prince Andrew tells BBC Newsnight: ‘You can’t prove whether or not that photograph is faked because it’s a photograph of a photograph of a photograph.’
December 2019 – Virginia told BBC Panorama that the photo is genuine and she gave the original to the FBI in 2011.
December 2019 – Guiffre’s then-boyfriend Tony Figueroa tells BBC Panorama he saw the picture in the year it was taken – 2001 – and that Ms Guiffre told him she had been forced to have sex with the prince.
February 2022 – Lady Victoria Hervey says victims of Epstein have told her the image was photoshopped by Virginia and Maria Farmer.
February 2022 – Experts claim the image is real and unlikely to be fake.
January 2023 – Maxwell claims the image is fake and that she has not seen an original, only photocopies.
‘Andrew felt as if he was in a pressure-cooker, as if he was given no option but to settle,’ a source said. ‘But he never wanted to settle and has always insisted he was innocent. He wants to see what legal routes might be available to him.’
The duke has previously said he has ‘no recollection’ of meeting Ms Giuffre and cast doubt on the picture, claiming he is ‘not one to hug’ or ‘display affection’ in public.
In an interview with BBC Newsnight in 2019, Andrew said while he recognises himself in the picture with Ms Giuffre, he claimed it is not possible to prove whether the image had been faked.
He also claimed the picture could not have been taken in London, as he was in his ‘travelling clothes’.
Ms Giuffre insisted to BBC Panorama in 2019 the photo was ‘authentic’ and said she gave the original to the FBI in 2011.
The Panorama investigation also found that Guiffre’s then-boyfriend Tony Figueroa said he saw the picture in the year it was taken – 2001 – and that Ms Guiffre told him she had been forced to have sex with the prince.
The programme also uncovered evidence that supports Ms Roberts’ claim that Ms Guiffre gave the original to the FBI.
A redacted court document shows she gave 20 photos to the FBI in 2011 and they were scanned front and back. But there are only 19 photos shown in the public version.
Journalist Michael Thomas, who was the first to copy the photograph in 2011, said in the programme that he was convinced the picture is genuine because he found it in the middle of a bundle of photographs.
He said: ‘It wasn’t like she pulled the photo of Prince Andrew out, it was just in amongst the rest of them.
‘They were just typical teenage snaps. There’s no way that photo is fake’.
Former sex crimes prosecutor Wendy Murphy previously said the image is real.
She said that if the case did not involve a member of the royal family ‘the picture would tell you nothing, because it’s not a picture of sexual assault’.
Had it been an ordinary case, she said she thought that ‘the defence would just say it only proves they were at a party together.’
She added that Maxwell being in the background means that the photograph ‘has no innocent explanation, because there is no innocent reason for him to be hugging her, even in a social situation’.
A professor of digital forensics and image analysis also claimed the photo was real in February last year.
UC Berkeley Professor Hany Farid said he thought it ‘unlikely’ the photo was doctored.
He said, the light and shadows in the image show no inconsistencies and it doesn’t appear likely that Andrew’s body or head were placed into the image.
He said: ‘The two figures are so seamlessly and closely placed next to each other suggests that this is unlikely to be a full-body splice of Prince Andrew.
‘The lighting and pose of the head seem consistent with the body and scene,’ he said according to The Times.
In an interview with Emily Maitlis (left) on BBC Newsnight in 2019, Andrew said while he recognises himself in the picture with Ms Giuffre, he claimed it is not possible to prove whether the image had been faked
Pictured: Prince Andrew, Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein and Caroline Stanley in June 2000
She claimed it had been pieced together using a photo taken at Naomi Campbell’s birthday party on board a yacht in St Tropez in May 2001, in which Virginia can be seen wearing the same white tank top with patterned jeans.
Lady Victoria however did not have a copy of the exact Virginia photo from St Tropez which she claims was used to fake the Prince Andrew image, and it has never been seen publicly.
Lady Victoria added to her baffling claims by saying that an ‘Irish guy’ who was dating one of Epstein’s victims in 2001 and also attended the boat party was used as a ‘body double’ for Prince Andrew in the ‘fake’ image.
Last year Prince Andrew’s ex Lady Victoria Hervey (pictured) said the infamous image was fake and claimed it had been pieced together
Lady Victoria Hervey and Ghislaine Maxwell pictured in Hollywood on February 25, 2004
Maxwell, who Ms Guiffre also accused of grooming her for sexual abuse, said during the interview: ‘I’ve read a lot of her depositions, and her statements are very categorical and her stories very detailed and elaborate, including claiming that she went to his (Dershowitz’s) house.
‘So I think her ‘memory lapses’ are disingenuous. If her memory is so poor, then how can you rely on anything she says?
‘When you give a lot of details and make claims that last five, six or seven years, and then suddenly at the last moment decide that it was a memory lapse, I find that hard to credit.’
Maxwell’s comment in October last year in in a world-exclusive prison interview with The Mail on Sunday contradicted Andrew’s denial to a US court that they had been close.
Maxwell failed to deny suggestions that she and Andrew had been a couple, and had declared: ‘I care about him.’
Maxwell pictured with Jeffrey Epstein at the late Queen’s log cabin at Glen Beg, Balmoral
Maxwell, was convicted of five counts of grooming minors for Epstein, who was found hanged in his prison cell in 2019
Maxwell was sentenced to 20 years in prison last year after she was found guilty by a jury of luring young girls to massage rooms for Epstein to molest between 1994 and 2004.
In December 2021 she was convicted of five counts of grooming minors for Epstein, who was found hanged in his prison cell in 2019.
After two years at the Metropolitan Detention Center in New York, where she complained of maggot infested meals and inhumane treatment, Maxwell was expected to serve her time in Federal Correctional Institute (FCI) Danbury – the Connecticut prison that inspired Orange is the New Black.
But she was instead shipped 1,000 miles south in late July to the Sunshine State, where Epstein abused many of his victims at his Palm Beach mansion.
FCI Tallahassee – Maxwell’s prospective home until at least July 17, 2037 – is surrounded by a maze of 30ft fences and cameras.
Maxwell expressed remorse as she was handed down a 240-month sentence, telling her victims: ‘I hope my conviction and harsh incarceration brings you closure.’
However Maxwell is planning to appeal her own conviction. Her spokesman said: ‘Her spirits are holding up well as you might expect of an innocent woman
HOW I LANDED THE INTERVIEW
By Daphne Barak
It took many months and hours of taped question and answer sessions before we could finally complete this first full-length, on camera interview with sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell from behind prison walls
Working closely with my collaborator, Susan Zirinsky, the first woman President of CBS news, we started making our requests soon after Maxwell’s conviction for trafficking back in June.
At the time Maxwell was held in Brooklyn’ notorious Metropolitan Detention Center – and all permission was at first refused. But after weeks of argument, free speech won through and we were allowed to do the most basic of interviews.
Maxwell was understandably cautious when we spoke on the phone and then in August, when we finally met face to face at the MDC.
When I asked about Prince Andrew and his connection to Epstein – and the case which would eventually see Maxwell jailed for 20 years – she refused to answer.
Maxwell did, though, start chatting about THAT extraordinary photo, the notorious picture showing Andrew with his arm around a 17-year-old Virginia Roberts, who accused him of sex abuse (which he completely denies).
The same picture also shows Ghislaine smiling in the background. It was taken in her flat.
And so we persisted, setting up another question and answer session for October, this time by video. By now Maxwell had been moved to the Tallahassee correctional institute in Florida.
Despite her time behind bars, Maxwell looked good. And this time she was confident – and chatty.
The whole CBS production team were stunned when she made it clear that, so far as she was concerned, Andrew and Virginia did not meet in her London apartment! That the photograph was a fake. And that the claims against Andrew were baseless.
Andrew had never met Virginia at all, she claimed (although Virginia has at all times insisted that the case against the Duke of York is true).
It was only in mid-December that we finally completed the interview . We explained to the prison authorities that Maxwell’s revelations are of huge significance for a senior member of the British Royal family and that we need to complete our line of questioning to get her whole version of events out in public.
The prison authorities did not make it easy, but at last approved another audio interview.
Maxwell continued to surprise us, this time claiming that, to her recollection, Prince Andrew and Virginia never met at any point at all, let alone in London.
For the moment, Prince Andrew is unable to comment on the case, a situation that will change in a few weeks’ time. I expect a great deal more to emerge by then.