Back to face the music: Andrew, who spent last week holidaying in the chalet, flew back to the UK by private jet on Sunday afternoon with Eugenie. Above, the Duke of York looked pensive as he left Verbier yesterday.

By Stephen Wright and Paul Bentley
Daily Mail

The sheer scale of the alleged cover-up of under-age sex crimes by Prince Andrew’s paedophile friend can be revealed today.

Jeffrey Epstein made extraordinary efforts to stop the young girls he abused from speaking to the FBI, court papers claim.

He is said to have tracked them down and promised to ‘look after’ them if they kept quiet.

Those who did not cooperate were apparently harassed or warned ‘bad things’ would happen to them if they helped federal investigators.

The files became public yesterday as the Duchess of York sprang to the defence of her ex-husband, who has been accused of having sex with Epstein’s under-age ‘sex slave’.

Yet vital evidence that could put Andrew in the clear is likely to remain secret. The Mail can reveal that 13,000 secret documents containing crucial testimony have been locked away by US prosecutors.

The papers can be used only if a judge gives the go-ahead, meaning the truth about claims made against the prince by the alleged slave, Virginia Roberts, will never be known. He fiercely denies her accusations.

In other developments:

Andrew was said to be plotting a ‘rearguard action’ with palace aides as he remained holed up at his Windsor mansion;
Aides insisted the Duke was ‘resilient’ and would ‘push on’ with his duties despite the scandal engulfing him;
The palace was rocked by claims that Miss Roberts is planning a tell-all book.

Yesterday, the Mail reported how Epstein employed an ‘army of legal superstars’ to persuade prosecution lawyers to sign a controversial agreement which may have given Andrew immunity from prosecution.

Many of the charges against Epstein and any ‘co-conspirators’ were removed in return for him pleading guilty to a relatively minor charge of soliciting an under-age girl for prostitution, for which he served just 13 months.

His lawyers then fought to make sure it was kept secret, claiming Epstein’s victims did not have any legal right to know the deal had been struck. They are said also to have carried out a shameful campaign against the state prosecutors who had brought the sex case against him.

It can now be revealed prosecutors also believed Epstein was tampering with potential witnesses. The fears are revealed in a document entitled ‘Statement of Undisputed Facts’ drawn up by a US state attorney on September 18, 2007, when prosecutors were finalising the non-prosecution agreement with Epstein.

The prosecutor described how, in August 2007, two FBI agents went to the home of Epstein’s personal assistant Lesley Groff to serve her with a federal grand jury subpoena in relation to the Epstein investigation.

Miss Groff disappeared upstairs and then rang Epstein, to inform them that the FBI were at her house. The prosecutor said: ‘Mr Epstein instructed Miss Groff not to speak with the agents and reprimanded her for allowing them into her home.

‘Mr Epstein applied pressure to keep Miss Groff from complying with the grand jury subpoena that the agents had served upon her.’ The document continues: ‘This conversation occurred when Mr Epstein was aboard his privately owned civilian aircraft in Miami. ‘His pilot had file a flight plan showing these parties were about to return to Teterboro, New Jersey.

‘After the conversation with Miss Groff, Mr Epstein became concerned that the FBI would try to serve his travelling companion, Nadia Marcinkova, with target letter when they landed in Teterboro. Mr Epstein then re-directed his plane, making the pilot file a new flight plan to the US Virgin Islands instead of the New York city area, thereby keeping the special agents from serving the target letter on Nadia Marcinkova.’

He is said to have verbally abused Miss Marcinkova during the flight, harassing and pressuring her not to cooperate with the grand jury’s investigation. The paedophile billionaire intimidated other alleged victims, according to the court papers.

Miss Roberts, a married mother of three, is said to be writing a book that threatens to tell all about her alleged involvement with the Duke of York.

One of her closest friends said she started planning the book at least a year ago.

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