Davos 2015: Britain's Prince Andrew denies underage sex claim

Britain's Prince Andrew gestures during a reception with business leaders on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos Jan 22, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Britain's Prince Andrew gestures during a reception with business leaders on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos Jan 22, 2015. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

DAVOS, Switzerland (REUTERS/AFP) - Britain's Prince Andrew on Thursday made his first public comment on allegations that he had had sex with an underage girl, reiterating previous official denials of the accusations.

Speaking before world and business leaders at an event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the 54-year-old second son of Queen Elizabeth II said he wanted to address the events of the last few weeks.

"I just wish to reiterate and to reaffirm the statements which have already been made on my behalf by Buckingham Palace," he said. "My focus is on my work."

The palace has previously issued denials of the claims, which appeared in US court documents.

According to the allegations filed in a Florida court, a woman identified only as Jane Doe #3 but named as Virginia Roberts by some British media said she was forced as a minor by Andrew's friend Jeffrey Epstein to have sex with several people, including the Prince.

When she allegedly had sex with the Prince, she was 17 - underage according to Florida law - the documents said. The woman alleges she met him in London, New York and the Caribbean at Epstein's behest.

She claims Epstein kept her as a "sex slave".

Epstein was convicted in 2008 of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution and served a prison term.

Lawyers for the woman at the centre of the scandal said in a letter released on Wednesday they want the Prince to respond under oath to the allegations.

The lawyers asked that Andrew be interviewed "regarding interactions that you had with Jane Doe #3 beginning in approximately early 2001".

The request states the interview should last about two hours and includes a photograph of the Prince with his arm around the woman.

The law office of Bradley Edwards, who represents the woman, told AFP it had no additional comment.

Buckingham Palace also declined to comment, said AFP.

The Palace has repeatedly and strongly denied the allegations against Andrew, calling them "false and without foundation."

Andrew, the Duke of York, was greeted with a barrage of cameras as he arrived in the glitzy Swiss Alpine resort of Davos where the world's rich and powerful are gathered.

About 200 people were expected at his Pitch@Palace reception in the Belvedere Hotel on Thursday - an event aimed at showcasing British digital talent.

Andrew owns a chalet near Davos and often attends the forum, usually passing largely unnoticed among the assorted global elite headlining the talks at the World Economic Forum.