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Andrew told to 'get to substance' as lawyers seek to invalidate sexual assault claim

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US judge has told Prince Andrew's lawyers to "cut the technicalities" as they fought to have a sexual assault lawsuit thrown out before it had even begun.

The Duke of York is accused of having sex with Virginia Giuffre when she was 17 and under the control of notorious paedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

But Prince Andrew is arguing that he has not been properly served, calling the case against him "baseless, non-viable and potentially unlawful" and urging Judge Lewis Kaplan to throw it out.

At a fractious hearing by telephone conference on Monday night, the judge said Ms Giuffre's lawyers "have a pretty high degree of certainty" that the royal will be served "sooner rather than later".

"Let's cut out all the technicalities and get to the substance," he said.

In a blast at the lawyers on both sides, Judge Kaplan added: "There is a very swift way of getting to the substance promptly, but you two need to talk about that because I can see a lot of legal fees being spent and time being expended and delay which may not be terribly productive for anyone."

Ms Giuffre's lawyers could now ask for help from the US court on service of the legal documents, including a formal request to UK authorities to complete the process.

Lisa Bloom, a lawyer for victims of Epstein, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme the legal wrangling is "not a good look" for Prince Andrew.

"Wealthy people typically get on their planes and go away, they can try to evade service and they often do," she said. "But it doesn't work forever. I see people like this all the time, high-profile people in sexual abuse cases and eventually the judges grow tired of it."

Ms Bloom added that she expects Ms Giuffre's team to soon demand to see palace calendars, diaries, log books, and "records of where he (Andrew) was on the dates she says he sexually assaulted her". "I would embark on an aggressive course of discovery," she said. "I would take depositions, witness statements under oath."

She claims she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew at Epstein's homes in New York and in the US Virgin Islands, as well as a property in Belgravia belonging to Epstein's girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell, and feared death or serious injury if she refused.

At last night's court hearing, Prince Andrew was represented by top Hollywood attorney Andrew Brettler, whose past clients include actor Armie Hammer and director Bryan Singer.

Mr Brettler told the court they believe the lawsuit is a "non-viable and potentially unlawful" case, disputing that service of papers — handed to a police officer outside the Royal Lodge in Windsor — was effective.

He said the prince's team will argue that a 2009 settlement agreement that Ms Giuffre signed with Jeffrey Epstein over claims of sexual abuse "releases the Duke and others from any and all potential liability".

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