Starmer: Prince Andrew 'should cooperate with the US' in Epstein investigation
6 July 2020, 12:06 | Updated: 6 July 2020, 12:16
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has told LBC that Prince Andrew "should cooperate with the US authorities" over the Jeffrey Epstein investigation.
Sir Keir told LBC's Nick Ferrari that "it doesn't matter who you are, you cooperate" when law enforcement authorities approach you to do so.
Officials in the US want the Duke of York to testify as a witness in their investigation into the Epstein scandal, which has seen dozens of alleged victims come forward against the disgraced financier who died last year.
Epstein's former girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested by the FBI last week and charged with a number of offences.
She has been accused of allegedly assisting the convicted sex offender in his abuse of minors by helping to recruit and groom victims known to be underage.
The FBI wants to speak with Prince Andrew, who had been photographed with both Epstein and Maxwell, and have complained that he has refused to cooperate.
As a former Director of Public Prosecutions for the Crown Prosecution Service, Sir Keir was asked whether he would give the US authorities access to Prince Andrew if he were prime minister.
Speaking on LBC's Call Keir, the Labour leader told Nick Ferrari: "The American authorities do approach the British authorities all the time, that happened throughout my five-year term as Director of Public Prosecutions, and we always cooperated.
"We strongly cooperate with other countries around the world and we would have cooperated on any issue where they said this is the cooperation that we need."
He was then asked whether the duke needs to cooperate with the US to put the issue to bed.
"Of course he should cooperate with the US," Sir Keir replied.
When asked whether he was disappointed Prince Andrew had not already spoken with the US authorities, he said: "Well, he will have to justify his own actions.
"It doesn't matter who you are, you cooperate with the law enforcement authorities when they require you to do so."
On Thursday, Prince Andrew said he was "bewildered" by claims he had not been cooperating with authorities over the Epstein case.
His lawyers have rubbished claims he has not offered to help investigators, saying they have "twice communicated" with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in the past month but have still had "no response" from officials.
However, US justice officials said they would "welcome" the opportunity to speak with the duke about the scandal after the FBI arrested Maxwell.
The prince has been engaged in a long-running battle with US law enforcement regarding his availability to answer questions.
The duke's legal team say he has made three separate offers this year to give a witness statement.
Prince Andrew has known Maxwell, the daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell, since her university days.
During his only television interview about his links to Epstein, the duke mentions Maxwell more than a dozen times.
In the interview with the BBC, Prince Andrew said: "Remember that it was his girlfriend that was the key element in this. He was the, as it were, plus one, to some extent in that aspect."
One of Epstein's alleged victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who claims she was trafficked by the financier, alleges the duke had sex with her on three separate occasions, including when she was 17, still a minor under US law.
Andrew categorically denies he had any form of sexual contact or relationship with Ms Giuffre Roberts.
In the BBC interview, Andrew said he had no recollection of meeting Mrs Giuffre Roberts.
However, a photograph reportedly taken in 2001 shows the prince with his arm around Ms Giuffre Roberts, while Maxwell can be seen in the background.
Maxwell was described in a lawsuit by Epstein victim Sarah Ransome as the "highest-ranking employee" of Epstein's alleged sex trafficking enterprise.
She oversaw and trained recruiters, developed recruiting plans and helped conceal the activity from law enforcement, the lawsuit alleged.
Maxwell has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and called some of the claims against her “absolute rubbish.”
Epstein was arrested in June of last year, and Maxwell has kept a low profile since. Until this morning it was not publicly known she was in the United States.