There was no case for prosecution, the Metropolitan Police decided – having neither interviewed the accuser nor the person she claimed had raped her in London.

She was ready, again, to testify in New York, but she was not called, either by the prosecution or the defence. She was not there when the guilty verdicts were delivered. But the absence of Virginia Roberts, the most prominent plaintiff, haunted the proceedings against Ghislaine Maxwell and, by extension, Prince Andrew – long labelled “Randy Andy” by UK tabloids.

Andrew, the Queen’s second son, has consistently denied having sex with Roberts, now Giuffre, in Maxwell’s Mayfair townhouse. Indeed, in a calamitous BBC television interview he said that he had no recollection of even meeting her, despite the photograph of him with his arm round her with the now convicted sex offender smiling in the background.

The focus shifts to the prince as he braces himself for the next round of Giuffre’s civil case against him on Tuesday in the same Manhattan court building, where the royal lawyers are expected to argue that judge Lewis Kaplan should dismiss it.

If they are unsuccessful, or if some settlement isn’t reached there, it is likely to go to trial between September and December this year.

Pressure will also be notched up on the Met to reopen the investigation they abandoned in October and to take sworn statements from the two principals in the case.

Age of consent

ONE of the reasons they decided to drop their peremptory investigation – despite Roberts’s claim that she was coerced and trafficked into sex with Andrew – was that she was then 17, over the age of consent in Britain. It is 18 in Florida, where most of the abuse by the multi-millionaire paedophile Jeffrey Epstein took place, and where Maxwell served up the young women to him.

What has changed for the Met is that the fifth crime Maxwell was found guilty of is not age-limited – a sex trafficking conspiracy. Obviously, it is a crime to traffic adults, women, in the UK whatever their age.

Maxwell brought a procession of poor and damaged young women to Epstein’s waterfront mansion at 358 El Brillo Way in Palm Beach, often three times a day.

None of this would have been known about, and the abuse would have continued, but for the Miami Herald reporter Julie K Brown who, in a series of articles labelled Perversion of Justice, detailed just how Maxwell assembled — with the help of young female recruiters — a large, cult-like network of underage girls and coerced them into carrying out sex acts on Epstein behind the walls of his mansion, in which the procurer sometimes participated.

60 teenage girls

BROWN interviewed and substantiated the accounts of more than 60 girls allegedly abused by Epstein with Maxwell’s collusion, although only four testified in New York. Giuffre wasn’t called by the prosecution, presumably because she has given seemingly contradictory accounts. But she could have been called by the defence. She wasn’t.

One of the prosecutors, Andrew Rohrbach, pointed this out: “The most obvious witness, who was available to both sides and who we expect the defence to comment on, is Virginia Roberts, who was described as a victim but did not testify and she was fully available to the defendants. They did not call her.”

The nub of Roberts/Giuffre’s case against Prince Andrew is that she was allegedly flown to London by Epstein and forced to have sex with him in Maxwell’s home. She claims it happened twice, in the bathroom and later in the bedroom, after which he thanked her and went home. She also says that she had sex with him in New York and on Epstein’s private island, Little Saint James in the Caribbean.

In her lawsuit, she claims she was “compelled by express or implied threats by Epstein, Maxwell and/or Prince Andrew to engage in sexual acts with Prince Andrew, and feared death or physical injury to herself or another and other repercussions for disobeying Epstein, Maxwell, and Prince Andrew due to their powerful connections, wealth, and authority”.

Andrew denies it occurred, saying that he was at Pizza Express in Woking with his daughter on the day of the alleged London liaison and did not meet up with Roberts at the Tramp nightclub, nor did he sweat on the dance floor there, because he was incapable of perspiring having suffered an “overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War”.

Maxwell was an old friend of his – he had known her for more than 20 years – and she introduced him to Epstein.

Andrew, in turn, brought the couple into the royal circle, with racing at Ascot, weekends at Sandringham and, as one of the prosecution exhibits in the Manhattan trial shows, to Balmoral where they are pictured in a wooden fishing cabin on the banks of the River Dee on the Queen’s estate. Maxwell was also a regular visitor to see Andrew at Buckingham Palace, as were many young women, and these visits were not logged, according to the former royal protection officer Paul Page.

He was convicted in 2009 of defrauding Met colleagues in a spread-betting scheme and a fake property scam so his account is certainly open to question.

However, several of his allegations were confirmed at his trial.

He alleged widespread indiscipline within SO14, the elite team guarding the royal palaces.

Sergeant Adam McGregor confirmed that he and several other officers took pictures of each other sitting on the royal throne – “something to tell the grandkids” – while it was common for officers to sleep on duty. It was also admitted that police cars were used to ferry tens of thousands of pounds in cash from the spread-betting scheme around palaces.

Andrew’s ‘visitors’

PAGE claims that official cars were also used to take home the anonymous young women who had visited Andrew.

Under the normal security protocol, guests’ arrivals should be logged with the office at the main gates but, Page claims, Andrew routinely flouted this. He says that officers would be told only that a young female was arriving and she should be let straight in without any identification.

The protection officers were not allowed to query the royal order.

“If this young lady turns up she doesn’t have to give us her name, she just says ‘I’m here for Prince Andrew’,” Page said.

“This happened on many occasions when I was there … up to 10 o’clock at night.”

On one occasion, he says, Maxwell and Andrew – or “Four-one” as he was called in police code – enjoyed a lavish picnic in the palace garden next to the summer house.

He continued: “What we were doing was against security protocol and even when we mentioned it to senior officers they ignored it as well.”

On Tuesday, Giuffre’s civil action will again turn the heat up on the sweatless Prince Andrew. After she initially filed the suit in New York, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick asked officers to review her allegations, saying: “No-one is above the law.”

Two months ago, the investigation was dropped without either Giuffre or Andrew giving statements.