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Prince Andrew’s lawyer asks judge to keep 2009 legal agreement sealed

Prince Andrew’s lawyer has asked a judge to keep sealed a 2009 legal agreement that he says can protect the prince against claims he sexually assaulted an American woman when she was a teenager.

The request was made in court papers in Manhattan federal court, where US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan is presiding over an August lawsuit filed on behalf of his accuser Virginia Giuffre.

Ms Giuffre alleges the prince abused her on multiple occasions in 2001 when she was 17 and a minor under US law.

Prince Andrew has denied all the allegations.

Lawyer Andrew Brettler, who is representing the royal, has called the lawsuit “baseless”.

He is preparing written arguments to ask that it be dismissed and wants to include under seal an agreement which, he contends, bars the lawsuit against the royal.

He also requested to redact any portions of his arguments that reveal information in the agreement.

Mr Brettler said neither the prince nor Ms Giuffre contend that the release agreement must remain sealed, but they wanted to ask that it stay secret because it is subject to a protective order from another judge presiding over a federal civil action in New York.

The agreement was reached between Ms Giuffre and Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in his cell in 2019 while awaiting trial for sex trafficking. His death has been ruled a suicide.

Mr Brettler said the agreement “releases Prince Andrew and others from any purported liability arising from the claims Ms Giuffre asserted against Prince Andrew here”.

A pretrial hearing related to the lawsuit is scheduled for next week.

On Monday, Judge Kaplan ruled Prince Andrew must be questioned under oath by Ms Giuffre’s lawyers in her civil sexual assault case by mid-July next year.

Prince Andrew has vehemently denied the claims against him, telling the BBC in late 2019 he never had sex with Ms Giuffre, saying, “It never happened”.

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