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.