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Police in London have decided to take no action against the Duke of York after reviewing allegations of sexual assault made in a US lawsuit by Virginia Giuffre. It is the latest development in a controversy that emerged following the downfall and death of billionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, a former friend of the duke.

Here's what you need to know.

What is Prince Andrew accused of?

In court documents, Virginia Giuffre says she was the victim of sex trafficking and abuse by Jeffrey Epstein from the age of 16.

Part of her abuse involved being lent out to other powerful men – including Prince Andrew, she alleges.

Ms Giuffre says the duke sexually assaulted her on three occasions when she was under the age of 18.

The first time was in 2001 in London. In a 2019 interview with the BBC, she said she was introduced to Prince Andrew by Epstein and his then-girlfriend, socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who took them to a nightclub.

Ms Giuffre recounts being told by Ms Maxwell as a 17-year-old that she had to "do for Andrew what I do for Jeffrey".

Image source, ReutersImage caption, Ms Giuffre's lawsuit alleges she suffered "significant emotional and psychological distress" from three sex assaults

Later that evening she says she had sex with the duke upstairs at Ms Maxwell's house in Belgravia.

On the second occasion, it is alleged that Prince Andrew abused Ms Giuffre in Epstein's mansion in New York.

And she says the duke abused her a third time on Epstein's private island, Little St James, in the US Virgin Islands.

Ms Giuffre says in the court documents that she was forced into sex by explicit or implicit threats and because she feared the powerful connections, wealth and authority of Epstein, Ms Maxwell and Prince Andrew.

She says the duke knew her age and that she was a sex-trafficking victim.

What is his defence?

Prince Andrew has consistently denied all the allegations against him.

He said in an interview with BBC Newsnight in 2019 that he had no recollection of ever meeting Virginia Giuffre, and that her account of their London meeting, nightclub visit and sex at a house in Belgravia "didn't happen".

The duke says on the date she claims they met, he was looking after his children, taking Princess Beatrice to a party in Pizza Express in Woking and spending the evening at home.

But Prince Andrew said he could not explain a photo of him with his arm around Virginia Giuffre, then known as Roberts, with Ms Maxwell in the background.

Image source, Virginia RobertsImage caption, Virginia Giuffre said she asked Epstein to take this picture of her with Prince Andrew and Ms Maxwell

Meanwhile, the prince's lawyers said that Ms Giuffre agreed in court in 2009 not to sue anyone else connected to Epstein when she settled her damages claim against the billionaire sex offender.

His lawyers said this agreement "releases the duke and others from any and all potential liability".

The wording of the deal had been kept confidential, but Ms Giuffre's lawyers agreed that it could be released to Prince Andrew's legal team, calling it "irrelevant to the case".

What legal cases is Prince Andrew facing?

Ms Giuffre filed a civil case in New York in August 2021 under the state's Child Victims Act, which allows survivors of childhood sexual abuse to pursue a case which otherwise would have been barred because too much time had passed.

The case accuses Prince Andrew of sexual assault and battery on Ms Giuffre when she was 17.

Now 38, she says the three alleged instances of abuse continue to cause her "significant emotional and psychological distress and harm".

However, the Metropolitan Police has said the prince will face no criminal case over the alleged assault in London.

Officers reviewed the US civil claim after it was filed "as a matter of procedure" and determined that no further action will be taken.

Who is Jeffrey Epstein and how is he linked to Prince Andrew?

Prince Andrew said he first met Epstein, a billionaire hedge fund manager, in 1999 through Epstein's then-girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell.

In 2000, the duke says he invited Ms Maxwell – the daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell – to Windsor Castle, with Epstein attending as her "plus-one".

Image source, News SyndicationImage caption, Prince Andrew was photographed as he walked with Jeffrey Epstein in New York's Central Park in 2010

The couple also visited the Queen's Sandringham estate in Norfolk for a shooting weekend later that year.

Prince Andrew told the BBC he had travelled on Epstein's private plane, visited his private island, and stayed at his homes in Palm Beach and New York.

  • Who is Ghislaine Maxwell, Epstein's ex-girlfriend?
  • Who was Jeffrey Epstein?
  • Prince Andrew's links to Jeffrey Epstein

Allegations against Epstein first began to surface in 2005 and the following year an arrest warrant was issued against him for sexual assault of a minor.

In July 2006, Prince Andrew invited Epstein and Ms Maxwell to the 18th birthday of his daughter, Princess Beatrice. But he says he only became aware of the allegations later that year, prompting him to cut off contact.

Epstein was jailed in Florida in 2008 for soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution under a controversial plea deal that saw him released in 2010.

Prince Andrew visited him in New York for four days in December 2010, but said the purpose of the visit was to break off their friendship.

Image source, Getty ImagesImage caption, Epstein and Ms Maxwell, pictured in 2005, allegedly worked together to abuse a vast number of girls

When Epstein's secret plea deal was exposed, it sparked outrage. Further charges in New York followed, alleging that Epstein had exploited a "vast network" of underage girls for sex, with some as young as 14.

But after a month in prison awaiting trial, he was found dead in his cell in August 2019 – with the New York medical examiner ruling it suicide.

Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested by the FBI in July 2020, and faces charges of assisting Epstein by recruiting and grooming his underage victims. She has pleaded not guilty and remains in a New York jail awaiting trial.