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Advocate questions probe into claims about Andrew

By EARLE GALE | China Daily Global | Updated: 2019-11-25 10:21

A combination photo of the front pages of British newspapers on Thursday after the prince stood down. [Photo/AP]

An advocate appointed by the United Kingdom government to work for the victims of crime reportedly wants to know why London's Metropolitan Police Service did not launch a full investigation into claims that a teenager was trafficked into the country to have sex with Prince Andrew.

The claims, which the prince says are untrue, where first made several years ago and the police department opened an investigation in 2015 that was subsequently shelved. Now, Victims' Commissioner Vera Baird, who is also a barrister and leading legal academic, wants to know why, the Observer newspaper has reported.

Baird, who was previously chair of the Board of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners and solicitor general for England and Wales between 2007 and 2010, has reportedly taken a close interest in the allegations.

The Observer said she wants to comment on the issue but cannot because the UK Parliament is closed ahead of a Dec 12 general election and rules prohibit so-called government servants making "political" comments and decisions.

The paper quoted victims' campaigner Harry Fletcher as saying: "Before the election was called, I spoke at length with the victims' commissioner and we both find it extraordinary that this matter was not proceeded with."

The Guardian newspaper said the Metropolitan Police Service insisted its investigators reviewed all "available evidence" after receiving a complaint alleging a 17-year-old woman had been "forced" to have sex with the prince back in 2001. The incident allegedly took place at the home of Ghislaine Maxwell, who was the girlfriend at the time of the subsequently disgraced financier Jeff rey Epstein. Epstein was subsequently convicted of sex crimes and committed suicide earlier this year while awaiting trial on additional sex-trafficking charges.

The Guardian said lawyers representing the alleged victim contacted the police in 2016 demanding a full investigation.

The UK's Channel 4 News reported in August that "the Met Police has refused to answer detailed questions about the allegations and whether they ever spoke to Epstein, his friend Ghislaine Maxwell, Prince Andrew or anyone from the royal household".

The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: "Having closely examined the available evidence, the decision was made that this would not progress to a full investigation."

It said it has since reviewed the decision and still believes it to be correct.

"Therefore, no further action is being taken," it said.

The prince appeared in a televised interview last week to strongly deny the allegations and to claim that a photograph that appears to show him with his arm around the alleged victim was a fake. In the wake of the claims against him, he subsequently announced he was stepping down from public duties until further notice.

The BBC is understood to be working on a documentary about the police probe and asking how seriously officers took the claims. The program, part of the investigative Panorama series, will include an interview with the alleged victim and air next month.

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