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Exclusive: FBI investigates Briton, others for Epstein links – sources


(Reuters) – The FBI is investigating British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell and several other people linked to U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein, who killed himself while awaiting trial on sex trafficking charges, according to two law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. financier Jeffrey Epstein appears in a photograph taken for the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services’ sex offender registry March 28, 2017 and obtained by Reuters July 10, 2019. New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services/Handout via REUTERS.

They said a principal focus of the FBI’s investigation is Maxwell, a longtime associate of Epstein, and other “people who facilitated” Epstein’s allegedly illegal behavior.

Maxwell has not been accused of criminal wrongdoing. Her lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.

The FBI also is following up on many leads received from women who contacted a hotline the agency set up at its New York field office in the wake of Epstein’s arrest in July, the sources said.

One of the sources said the probe remains at an early stage.

The sources declined to give further details or identify the people they are looking at apart from Maxwell. However, they said the FBI has no current plans to interview Britain’s Prince Andrew, a friend of Epstein’s who stepped down from his public duties in November because of what he called his “ill-judged” association with the well-connected money manager.

A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment.

A representative for the British royal family said that whether the agency interviewed Andrew was “a matter for the FBI.”

Epstein’s suicide in August, at age 66, came a little over a month after he was arrested and charged with trafficking dozens of underage girls as young as 14 from at least 2002 to 2005. Prosecutors said he recruited girls to give him massages, which became sexual in nature.

He had pleaded not guilty.

Following Epstein’s arrest, the FBI urged anyone who had been victimized by Epstein or had additional information to call the agency’s hotline.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr vowed to carry on the case against anyone who was complicit with the financier.

“Any co-conspirators should not rest easy,” he said in August.

The sources said they had received numerous tips from the hotline, which they are looking into.

Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s alleged victims, has said in a civil lawsuit that Maxwell recruited her into Epstein’s circle, where she claims Epstein forced her to have sex with him and friends including Andrew.

Maxwell has called Giuffre’s allegations lies. Giuffre in response filed a defamation suit against Maxwell in 2015.

Giuffre repeated the claims about the prince in a BBC interview that aired this month.

Andrew, 59, also categorically denies the accusations and has said he has no recollection of meeting Giuffre, who was previously named Virginia Roberts.

The two law enforcement sources said the FBI’s principal focus is on people who facilitated Epstein and that Andrew does not fit into that category. They did not rule out the possibility that the FBI would seek to interview Andrew at a later date.

Reporting By Mark Hosenball; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Alistair Bell

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.



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Scotland Yard, Met faces questions over Duke and teenager trafficked by Epstein


Scotland Yard was last night (Sunday) under pressure to explain why it failed to carry out a full investigation into allegations that a teenager had been trafficked to the UK to have sex with the Duke of York.

Four years ago, the Met received a complaint alleging that in 2001, Virginia Roberts, 17, was flown to London by paedophile Jeffrey Epstein and coerced into having sex with Prince Andrew.

It was claimed the incident took place at the Kensington townhouse of Ghislaine Maxwell, a close friend of the Duke. A photograph appeared to show him with his arm around the girl while Miss Maxwell looked on in the background.

After assessing the complaint, police decided the matter did not warrant a full investigation.

The Duke vigorously denies having sex with Miss Roberts and insists he knew nothing of Epstein’s activities. But victims’ rights campaigners have questioned why the matter was not pursued, especially given that in 2015 the Met adhered to national policy stipulating that “victims must be believed”, introduced in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Such was the Met’s determination to pursue the policy to the letter that it spent 18 months and more than pounds 4 million looking into complaints by fantasist Carl Beech, who told police he had been raped and abused by a string of VIPs in the Seventies and Eighties.

The Daily Telegraph understands the decision to shelve the girl’s complaint was taken by Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, then commander in charge of specialist crime investigations, who reported to Assistant Commissioner Pat Gallan, overseer of Operation Midland at the time.

The Met has so far declined to explain why the complaint relating to Roberts was not taken further. Repeated questions to Scotland Yard about the decision-making process have been met with silence.

Dame Vera Baird QC, the Victims’ Commissioner, is understood to have demanded an explanation but declined to comment directly because of the rules around election purdah. But Harry Fletcher, a victims’ rights campaigner, said the Met needed to be transparent about the 2015 complaint. “There appears to be some worrying double standards here in terms of how Scotland Yard approached two complaints of historic sexual abuse,” he said.

“In one case, a complaint from a vulnerable young woman has been dismissed without further investigation, while at around the same time the Met was going all out to investigate a pack of lies from a fantasist. It is only right that the Met now explains why there was such a divergence in their approach.”

Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Duke held a meeting with Maxwell in Buckingham Palace in the summer, a fortnight after Epstein was placed under investigation by US authorities on fresh sex-trafficking allegations.

In the Duke’s now-infamous Newsnight interview, he admitted seeing Ms Maxwell in the summer but insisted they had not discussed Epstein. Sources have now revealed the meeting took place in the Duke’s private quarters at Buckingham Palace.

U.S. authorities are understood to be keen to trace Ms Maxwell, who has been accused of helping to procure young girls for Epstein – a charge she has always firmly denied.



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