US prosecutors have said they “would like to talk” to Prince Andrew following the arrest of a British socialite on child sex abuse charges in New York.
Ghislaine Maxwell has been charged with helping disgraced financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein to sexually exploit and abuse multiple minor girls over a three-year period in the 1990s.
Audrey Strauss, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York, said Maxwell had played a “critical role” in helping Epstein “identify, befriend and groom minor victims for abuse”.
The FBI said it had been “discreetly keeping tabs” on Maxwell’s whereabouts as they worked the investigation.
US investigators have said they also want to interview Prince Andrew about his friendship with Epstein as part of their inquiry into possible co-conspirators.
That has led to a transatlantic war of words, with US prosecutors accusing him in June of failing to cooperate with multiple requests they made to interview him about his contacts with the late Epstein, who died last August in a New York City federal prison.
US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said last month Andrew was “falsely portraying” himself to the public as “eager and willing to cooperate with an ongoing federal criminal investigation into sex trafficking and related offences committed by Jeffrey Epstein and his associates”.
Taking questions from reporters as she announced Maxwell’s arrest on Thursday, acting US attorney for the southern district of New York Audrey Strauss said investigators would “welcome” a statement from Prince Andrew.
“I’m not going to comment on anyone’s status in this investigation but I will say that we would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us, we would like to have the benefit of his statement,” she said.
“I have no further comment beyond what I just said, which is that our doors remain open, as we previously said, and we would welcome him coming in and giving us an opportunity to hear his statement.”
Andrew has publicly stated he will cooperate with any "appropriate law enforcement agency".
Virginia Roberts, also known as Virginia Giuffre, has accused Andrew of having sex with her when she was underage in the US and having been trafficked by Epstein.
Andrew stepped back from his senior royal duties in November, after a disastrous interview on BBC Newsnight about his friendship with Epstein.
He has faced repeated calls to speak to the US authorities about what he knew of Epstein, and they say he has not honoured his promise to co-operate with the investigation.
Andrew accused them of seeking headlines instead of help.
A source close to the Duke’s working group said: “The Duke’s team remains bewildered given that we have twice communicated with the DOJ in the last month, and to-date, we have had no response.”
Maxwell, 58, has previously denied wrongdoing or knowledge of sexual misconduct.
At the news conference on Thursday, when asked if she would be willing to hear evidence from Maxwell concerning others involved despite the perjury charges against her, Ms Strauss said: “This sometimes happens when there are perjury charges and people can go on from there and become co-operators if that is what you are asking, so I’m not concerned about that.
“In the event that she were to become a co-operator, I think that we can deal with that.”
Prince Andrew spoke about his friendship with Maxwell during the interview with Newsnight in November 2019.
He referred to Epstein as the “plus one” of Maxwell, who he denied throwing a birthday party for at Sandringham.
He also denied any knowledge of the photograph showing him with his arm around Ms Roberts in the home of Maxwell in Belgravia. He said he did not believe he had ever gone upstairs in Maxwell’s home.
Andrew said he had last seen Maxwell in London in the Summer of 2019, when she had been “doing some rally”.
He said they had not discussed Epstein.