Most civil claims are settled or abandoned without the need for a hearing. Even though the timing of this one may have been unexpected, it is no surprise that Virginia Giuffre and Prince Andrew have reached an out-of-court settlement.
Those who regard litigation as a spectator sport have expressed their disappointment. Those who understand that bringing a civil claim is a means to an end will be relieved that the parties have settled their differences privately.
And those who believed that both sides were determined to have their day in court may now understand the difference between rhetoric and negotiations.
“The parties anticipate filing a stipulation of dismissal of the case within 30 days,” Giuffre’s lawyer David Boies told Judge Kaplan today. “The parties will file a stipulated dismissal upon Ms Giuffre’s receipt of the settlement (the sum of which is not being disclosed),” he added in a document he called exhibit A.
This seems to mean that Andrew has 30 days to hand over the cash. Once that has been received, Giuffre will formally withdraw her claim.
The judge later agreed to stay the case until 17 March. But, he added firmly, “in the event the stipulation of dismissal is not filed by then, it remains entirely possible that this action will be set for trial when previously indicated”.
It’s worth noting that the payment Giuffre will receive is separate from the “substantial donation to Ms Giuffre’s charity in support of victims’ rights” that Andrew also “intends to make”.
There is no mention of costs and Boies had reportedly said he would act pro bono. But I would expect the settlement to cover his fees too.
Why would Andrew pay money to a woman he denies having assaulted? Why would Giuffre withdraw her claim against him without either an admission of responsibility or an apology?
Can we infer that Andrew could not be confident of establishing an alibi? Or should we conclude that Giuffre could not be sure of proving her claims?
These questions may never be answered. The only conclusion we can safely draw is that a settlement suits both parties — as well as their lawyers. It has also saved huge sums in legal fees. Unless Giuffre is much wealthier than she appears, I suspect these costs would have been borne either by Andrew or by Boies — or perhaps by both.
No doubt the payment Andrew has now agreed to make is very large. But, unlike the cost of a hearing, it is a fixed sum that he knows he can meet. And the timing means that the prospect of a trial will not overshadow the service of thanksgiving for the life of his father on 29 March or the Queen’s platinum jubilee celebrations planned for the summer.
No going back
Giuffre’s allegations remain just that. They will not be established or demolished, even to the civil standard of proof. And that may reduce the chances of a criminal prosecution.
But, as part of the settlement, Andrew has had to admit to his “association” with Jeffrey Epstein — a man who, in the words of the settlement, “trafficked countless young girls over many years”. Andrew, the agreed statement adds, “regrets his association with Epstein and… pledges to demonstrate his regret for his association with Epstein by supporting the fight against the evils of sex trafficking and by supporting his victims.”
That association, we know, continued after Epstein’s imprisonment in 2008 for soliciting and procuring a minor for prostitution. He was released in July 2010 and later that year Andrew stayed at his New York mansion. That, Andrew told the BBC’s Emily Maitlis in 2019, was so that he could tell Epstein it was not appropriate that they should remain in contact.
What possible justification could there have been for the duke’s association with a sex trafficker and his wish to stay in the man’s house after he had been convicted?
Andrew told Maitlis in 2019 that he did not regret his friendship with Epstein. Now he does.
This is surely the most damning part of the settlement deal. There is no admission that Andrew even met Giuffre. But he admits his association with a convicted sex offender and now, finally, regrets it.
That is why there can be no going back to royal duties. That is why Andrew has lost —and Giuffre has won.
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You're probably right but the randy one has got off as lightly as was probably possible, given the obvious fact of his association with Epstein and that photograph (real or faked) so beloved of the British media. And presumably it will be nice not to have a metaphorical hammer hitting his head every morning when he awakes. Perhaps he could now offer his services as an Abuse Ambassador. On second thoughts.....
£x = the cost of fighting, win or lose.
£x - £y = cost of settlement.
Sad to have to pay if it’s a fictitious claim, but it makes economic sense, and it avoids the aggro.