USA

No official U.S. approach to quiz Prince Andrew over Epstein, UK PM says

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. authorities have not made an official approach to the British government for permission to speak to Prince Andrew about his contacts with the late disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Friday.

U.S. prosecutors want to question the British prince over his contacts with Epstein, who was awaiting trial on charges of trafficking minors when he died last August in a New York City federal prison.

However, they have said Andrew, Queen Elizabeth's second son, had repeatedly evaded their requests for an interview and reiterated their desire to speak to him on Thursday after they arrested British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, the former girlfriend and longtime associate of Epstein.

23 PHOTOS

Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson's wedding

See Gallery

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 23: Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York and Prince Andrew, Duke of York stand on the balcony of Buckingham Palace and wave at their wedding on July 23, 1986 in London, England. (Photo by Anwar Hussein/Getty Images)

Library file, dated 23.7.86. Mrs Susan Barrantes (far left), mother of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, joins her daughter on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, following her marriage to the Duke of York, Prince Andrew: Mrs Barrantes, the former wife of the Duchess's father Major Ronald Ferguson, has died in a car crash in Argentina. See PA story DEATH Barrantes. /PA **AVAILABLE B/W ONLY** (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

On the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Sarah, Duchess of York and Prince Andrew, Duke of York kiss each other after their wedding, London, England, July 23, 1986. Among those with them is best man (and brother of the groom) Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (right). (Photo by Derek Hudson/Getty Images)

On the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Sarah, Duchess of York and Prince Andrew, Duke of York kiss each other after their wedding, London, England, July 23, 1986. Among those with them on the balcony are Sarah's mother, Susan Barrantes (1937 - 1998) (left, in yellow), Peter Philips (bottom left), best man (and brother of the groom) Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (right rear), Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002) (right), and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (far right). (Photo by Derek Hudson/Getty Images)

On the balcony of Buckingham Palace, Prince Andrew, Duke of York and Sarah, Duchess of York wave to well-wishers after their wedding, London, England, July 23, 1986. (Photo by Derek Hudson/Getty Images)

London July 23, 1986 Princess Diana and Prince Charles at wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson at the Various in Various, United Kingdom. (Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage)

Library file 6464-20, dated 23.7.86. Mrs Susan Barrantes (far left), mother of Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, joins her daughter on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, following her marriage to the Duke of York, Prince Andrew: Mrs Barrantes, the former wife of the Duchess's father Major Ronald Ferguson, has died in a car crash in Argentina. See PA story DEATH Barrantes. /PA (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

The wedding of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey, London, UK, 23rd July 1986. (Photo by John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)

Elevated view inside Westminster Abbey during the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, London, England, July 23, 1986. (Photo by Tom Stoddart/Getty Images)

The wedding of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey, London, UK, 23rd July 1986. (Photo by John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)

The wedding of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey, London, UK, 23rd July 1986. (Photo by John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)

The wedding of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey, London, UK, 23rd July 1986. (Photo by John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)

The wedding of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey, London, UK, 23rd July 1986. (Photo by John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)

The wedding of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey, London, UK, 23rd July 1986. (Photo by John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)

The wedding of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey, London, UK, 23rd July 1986. (Photo by John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images)

Sarah Ferguson et d'Andrew d'York dans une calèche après leur mariage le 23 juillet 1986 à Londres au Royaume-Uni. (Photo by Pool MARIAGE PRINCE ANDREW/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The wedding of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and Sarah Ferguson. The Duke and Duchess of York wave to crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace, 23rd July 1986. (Photo by Mike Maloney/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

Prince Andrew kisses his bride Sarah Ferguson on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Prince Andrew kisses his bride Sarah Ferguson on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on their wedding day. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

The Duke and Duchess of York (formerly Prince Andrew and Miss Sarah Ferguson) smile happily during their carriage procession after their wedding at Westminster Abbey in London. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

The royal couple, the Duke and Duchess of York leave Westminster Abbey after their marriage. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

The newlywed Duke and Duchess of York, with (b. row-L) Prince Edward. Children; Alice Ferguson, Lady Posanagh Innes-Ker. Seated children l-r: Andrew Ferguson, Seamus Makim, Peter Phillips, Prince William and Laura Fellowes. (Foreground) Zara Phillips. (Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Royal Family on the balcony at Buckingham Palace after the wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, The Duke and Duchess of York . (Photo by Mirror Syndication International/Mirrorpix/Getty Images)

HIDE CAPTION

SHOW CAPTION

Lawyers for Andrew, who met Epstein through his friendship with Maxwell, say he has offered his help three times this year.

Asked what the response would be if U.S. officials sought formal access to the prince, whose official title is the Duke of York, Johnson said: "No such approach has been made. It's a matter for the royal family."

He added: "Everybody's sympathies are very much with the victims of Jeffrey Epstein but you wouldn't expect me to comment on matters affecting the royal family."

"The law must carried out and the law must be observed," he told LBC radio.

In June, then-U.S. Attorney for Manhattan Geoffrey Berman said Andrew had "sought to falsely portray himself to the public as eager and willing to cooperate" with their inquiry.

At the same time, a U.S. law enforcement official confirmed to Reuters that U.S. authorities investigating Epstein had sent the British government a formal request, known as a mutual legal assistance treaty (MLAT) submission, asking for access to the prince.

After Maxwell was arrested and charged on Thursday with luring underage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse, acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: "We would welcome Prince Andrew coming in to talk with us."

Andrew's legal team have accused the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) of seeking publicity rather than his help, rejecting accusations he had offered "zero cooperation."

"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," a source close to Andrew's team said in response to Strauss's remarks.

(Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by William James and Giles Elgood)

Football news:

Lampard wants Chelsea to buy Chilwell, a new goalkeeper and at least one Central defender
Barcelona wants to increase Fati's compensation to 400 million euros
Inter agreed with Manchester United to transfer Sanchez for 15 million euros. It will be announced after the match with Getafe
Alisson: Klopp is a passionate guy, he wants to win and make Liverpool even greater
Borussia Director on the words of Hennessy: it Sounds arrogant. If you have 250 million euros more, it's easy to be carefree
Varan about the match with city: the Outcome of the best games in the Champions League is decided in small episodes. That's why we love it
Pochettino is the main candidate for the post of Barca coach. Setien can be sacked if the club does not win the Champions League