The US authorities have reportedly asked Prince Andrew to formally testify in the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case.
According to the BBC, the Department of Justice in the US has made a formal request to the UK Home Office for the first time to speak to Andrew about his friendship with the late convicted sex offender, who took his own life while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges last year.
Neither the Department of Justice nor the Home Office have confirmed these reports.
Epstein had already been sentenced in 2008 for soliciting underage girls for prostitution, but the Prince continued their friendship and was photographed leaving his New York mansion following the conviction.
This new development comes after The Sun reported this morning that the Prince is part of the criminal investigation for the first time. Up until now he has reportedly refused to speak to investigators in New York and could only be called to civil court.
A source told the paper: 'It’s a huge statement of intent from the US and it moves Andrew into the realms of a criminal investigation. It’s also frankly a diplomatic nightmare.'
His lawyers have called the leak to the paper 'an extraordinary breach of confidentiality'.
The Duke of York stepped back from royal duties in November after his interview with BBC journalist Emily Maitlis was deemed a PR disaster.
He has always denied any wrong-doing and insisted he had 'no recollection' of meeting Virginia Giuffre, the woman who claims they had sex on three separate occasions when she was 17.
In his interview with Maitlis, the Prince said he 'kicks' himself for continuing to stay in contact with Epstein after the billionaire financier was first convicted of sex offences.
'That's the bit that… as it were, I kick myself for on a daily basis because it was not something that was becoming of a member of the royal family and we try and uphold the highest standards and practices and I let the side down, simple as that.'
A full statement from Prince Andrew's legal team is expected later today.
Last month, The Sunday Times reported that Andrew would retire from public life indefinitely.
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