The Duke of York has officially been served with the civil lawsuit alleging sexual assault, according to a document lodged with a New York court.
He was served on August 27 at his home in Windsor and has until September 17 to respond, the affidavit states.
“Service was accepted by Metropolitan Police Office/Head of Security at Royal Lodge,” according to the legal team of his accuser, Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
The suit was formally served by “corporate investigator” Cesar Augusto Sepulveda, who works for a London-based process server.
Sepulveda arrived at Royal Lodge at 9.30am on August 26, left a business card and was asked to wait before speaking to two Metropolitan Police officers, the document reveals.
They were unable to raise the Duke’s private secretary but told him they had been told not to accept any court papers and gave him a number for his lawyer, Gary Bloxsome, for whom he left a message.
Staff had “already been primed not to allow anyone access on to the property to serve court process and instructed anyone not to accept the service”, according to the document.
Sepulveda returned to Royal Lodge at 9.15am the following day and spoke to the head of security, who told him to leave the paperwork at the main gates and that it would be forwarded to the Duke’s legal team.
The complaint and summons, enclosed in a plastic sleeve and A4 envelope, addressed to the Duke, was therefore deemed officially served, according to the affidavit.
However, despite the detailed claims made in the court document, Bloxsome has rejected the method of service, which he described as “regrettable” and procedurally improper.
He accused Giuffre’s legal team of failing to follow correct procedures, claiming the lawsuit should be served via a British court official, who would act as an intermediary.
If the judge overseeing the case made such a request, he said it was “likely” the Duke would “agree to a convenient method of alternative service”, according to a letter obtained by ABC News.
Bloxsome also revealed in the letter, dated September 8, that he hoped to strike out the sexual assault claim, believing that a confidential settlement Ms Giuffre reached with Jeffrey Epstein in 2009 could make her claim for damages invalid.
He is trying to access the sealed document, suggesting that without it the case cannot proceed.
The letter, sent earlier this week to judge Barbara Fontaine, senior master of the Queen’s Bench division, represents the first public acknowledgment of the lawsuit by the Duke’s legal team and the first indication of how it plans to respond.
Bloxsome said the 2009 agreement may have led to the dismissal, by consent, last month of Giuffre’s high-profile civil claim against Alan Dershowitz.
Giuffre had accused Dershowitz, a lawyer who previously represented Epstein, of sexual assault in 2019.
However, she reportedly dropped the claim last month because the settlement she reached with Epstein released him and others from certain claims.
Dershowitz is now trying to get the 2009 agreement unsealed and has asked for a copy to be sent to the Duke’s lawyers, to help them get the case against him dropped. The judge in his case has not yet ruled on that request.
It comes ahead of the first court hearing, via telephone, in New York on Monday, when David Boies, Guiffre’s lawyer, will detail the various attempts to personally serve the Duke at his Windsor home, by post and by email to several law firms believed to be associated with him.
Giuffre, now 38, has accused the Duke of “rape in the first degree”, sexual battery and sexual abuse, when she was 17.
She claims the abuse took place at convicted sex offender Epstein’s New York home, on his private Caribbean island and at the London home of socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, who is awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges. The Duke denies the allegations and has said he has “no recollection of ever meeting her”.
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