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Prince Andrew pictured with Virginia Roberts when she was 17 (PA)

The Duke of York will face a civil trial in America over sexual abuse claims after a US judge dismissed his attempt to have the lawsuit thrown out.

Prince Andrew is being sued by Virginia Roberts Giuffre for rape after he allegedly sexually abused her when she was 17

Andrew denies all allegations against him

The civil trial is expected to be held between September and December this year. Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the development, saying: “We would not comment on what is an ongoing legal matter."

Ms Giuffre alleges that she was trafficked by Jeffrey Epstein, who died in prison in 2019 on sex trafficking charges.

The Duke of York ahead of the funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh at Windsor Castle, Berkshire. Picture date: Saturday April 17, 2021.
The Duke of York. (PA)

Lawyers for Andrew called for the civil lawsuit to be dismissed, arguing Ms Giuffre waived her right to sue him after signing a $500,000 dollar settlement agreement with Epstein in 2009.

In it, Ms Giuffre had agreed to "release, acquit, satisfy, and forever discharge" Epstein and "any other person or entity who could have been included as a potential defendant".

In court, Andrew's lawyer Andrew Brettler said it was "unquestionable" that he could have been sued in the 2009 case, and would therefore be considered a "potential defendant".

But Ms Giuffre's lawyer David Boies said Andrew would not have been considered as the duke was never accused of trafficking individuals for illegal sexual activity.

Mr Boies added: "He was somebody to whom the girls were trafficked, that's a different criteria."

Outlining his reasons for denying the Duke of York’s motion to dismiss the civil case against him, Judge Lewis Kaplan said an agreement in the civil settlement between Jeffrey Epstein and Virginia Giuffre “cannot be said” to benefit him.

In his ruling, he said: “The 2009 Agreement cannot be said to demonstrate, clearly and unambiguously, the parties intended the instrument ‘directly,’ ‘primarily,’ or ‘substantially,’ to benefit Prince Andrew.

“The existence of the requisite intent to benefit him, or others comparable to him, is an issue of fact that could not properly be decided on this motion even if defendant fell within the releasing language, which itself is ambiguous.

“Thus, independent of whether the release language applies to Prince Andrew, the agreement, at a minimum, is ‘reasonably susceptible to more than one interpretation’ on the equally important question of whether this defendant may invoke it.” By Kate Buck, Yahoo News

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