Britain's Prince Andrew has fired back against U.S. justice officials by claiming he "offered to help Jeffrey Epstein prosecutors" at least three times, according to a new BBC report.
The revelation was made by Andrew's attorneys Monday morning, just hours after The Sun U.K. reported that officials from the Department of Justice are demanding that the U.K. make the royal available for questioning as part of a criminal investigation into his involvement with Epstein – a big step in the long-running probe into the disgraced financier's associates’ alleged sex crimes.
The Department of Justice notified the British Home Office, rather than Buckingham Palace, that the 60-year-old Duke of York is now involved in the criminal investigation connected with Epstein, who died in August after being found dead in his New York City jail cell, according to The Sun. Justice Department officials have reportedly said they've been unsuccessful in their attempts to interview him.
The Home Office is responsible for keeping "citizens safe and the country secure," according to its website.
Andrew has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. He was previously thought to be the subject of only a civil investigation that stemmed from his decade-long friendship with Epstein, who was worth more than $575 million at the time of his death.
The Daily Mail reported earlier Monday the duke had planned to respond by revealing his team's correspondence with the U.S. agency to disprove claims he had been uncooperative.
"Legal discussions with the Department of Justice are subject to strict confidentiality rules, as set out in their own guidelines," a source close to Andrew's attorneys told the Mail. "We have chosen to abide by both the letter and the spirit of these rules, which is why we have made no comment about anything related to the Department of Justice during the course of this year. We believe in playing a straight bat."
Allegations against the Queen's second son have been widely publicized, especially those involving Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who has said outright that another one of Epstein’s associates, Ghislaine Maxwell, instructed her to have sex with him.
Giuffre said she was 17 when she first met the duke during a March 2001 trip to London with Epstein and Maxwell.
"Ghislaine tells me that I have to do for Andrew what I do for Jeffrey and that made me sick," she told BBC Panorama in December. A photograph unearthed in court records shows Andrew with his arm around the teen who is flanked between the royal and Maxwell, a British socialite.
Andrew announced in November 2019 he was stepping "back from public duties for the foreseeable future."
"It has become clear to me over the last few days that the circumstances relating to my former association with Jeffrey Epstein has become a major disruption," he said in a public statement at the time, adding: "I continue to unequivocally regret my ill-judged association with Jeffrey Epstein."
At the time of the announcement, he also said he would be willing "to help any appropriate law enforcement agency with their investigation, if required."
But in March, U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman revealed for the second time in only months that Andrew was not as helpful as he claimed he would willingly be.
"Contrary to Prince Andrew's very public offer to cooperate with our investigation into Epstein's co-conspirators, an offer that was conveyed via press release, Prince Andrew has now completely shut the door on voluntary cooperation and our office is considering its options,” Berman said at the time.
Andrew's attorneys had told Berman the duke would not voluntarily agree to being interviewed, according to Reuters.
Berman had made a similar statement at the end of January when he first revealed that despite their request to interview him, the Duke has "provided zero cooperation" in their efforts.
Allegations against the duke, and his relationship with the disgraced financier, were chronicled in Netlflix's recently released original docuseries, "Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich."
At the time of Epstein's death, he was awaiting trial in connection to accusations he paid underage girls hundreds of dollars in cash for massages, then sexually abused them.
He was previously convicted in 2008 after pleading guilty to charges in Florida of soliciting a prostitute involving a minor and another similar prostitution charges. A number of court cases involving his estate and his associates remain open.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.