UK's Prince Andrew says he offered to help officials three times in Epstein inquiry

US authorities investigating claims Epstein trafficked women and young girls around the world

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 07, 2019 Britain's Prince Andrew, Duke of York, attends a ceremony commemorating the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Bruges, in Bruges.  Queen Elizabeth II's second son, Prince Andrew, on June 8, 2020, denied failing to cooperate with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) in its investigation into the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Claims he had offered "zero cooperation" in the case were untrue, his lawyers said, adding: "The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the DoJ." / AFP / JOHN THYS
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Britain's Prince Andrew has hit back at claims that he has not been co-operating with US prosecutors investigating the late billionaire Jeffrey Epstein.

Andrew has faced mounting pressure to speak to the FBI over his relationship with Epstein and events during his stays at the billionaire's house.

US officials are investigating claims that Epstein, who was found dead in prison last year, trafficked women and girls around the world to be abused.

On Monday, the prince's lawyers said he has offered his assistance on three occasions and suggested investigators were seeking publicity rather than his help.

"The Duke of York has on at least three occasions this year offered his assistance as a witness to the Department of Justice," said his lawyers, from Blackfords.

"Unfortunately, the DoJ has reacted to the first two offers by breaching their own confidentiality rules and claiming that the Duke has offered zero co-operation.

"In doing so, they are perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered."

But Geoffrey Berman, the prosecutor at the US Department of Justice leading the Epstein probe, said that the Prince had tried to "portray himself to the public as eager and willing to co-operate" in the investigation.

"If Prince Andrew is, in fact, serious about co-operating with the ongoing federal investigation, our doors remain open and we await word of when we should expect him," Mr Berman said on Monday.

Last year, Scotland Yard confirmed it had been contacted by Virginia Giuffre, formerly named Virginia Roberts, who claimed that Andrew had slept with her at Epstein's home.

But the police declined to investigate further on the grounds that  it was a US investigation.

The Metropolitan Police Service revealed it had interviewed Ms Giuffre in 2015 but did not launch a full investigation after advice from the Crown Prosecution Service.

Prince Andrew has strenuously denied allegations that he had physical relations with Ms Giuffre, and in a TV interview last year he said he was at a Pizza Express on the day he was alleged to have met her in London.

The prince faced a growing backlash after the interview over his friendship with convicted sex offender Epstein.

A number of businesses and institutions have since distanced themselves from him and he has stepped back from royal duties.