Blair Berk, whose previous clients include Mel Gibson and Britney Spears, is thought to be heading up the Duke’s defence strategy in case he later faces formal charges
A lawyer nicknamed “The Rottweiler” is spearheading Prince Andrew’s legal team in the US, it has been claimed.
Blair Berk, the go-to criminal lawyer for Hollywood stars facing damaging accusations, is thought to be heading up the Duke’s defence strategy in case he later faces formal charges.
It comes as a civil case against him for rape and sexual assault proceeds in New York.
Berk’s previous clients include Harvey Weinstein, Britney Spears, Leonardo DiCaprio and Mel Gibson.
Yesterday, it was claimed that Berk is confident the multi-million dollar lawsuit brought by accuser Virginia Roberts could be thrown out of court.
Ms Roberts – now known as Virginia Giuffre – is suing the Duke in a New York court, claiming that she was forced to have sex with him three times when she was 17 – a minor under state law.
The lawsuit, filed last month alleges the Prince “raped and committed sexual assault and battery” on Ms Roberts, now 38.
She is seeking unspecified damages which could run into the millions of dollars.
Prince Andrew has repeatedly and vehemently denied all claims against him and any wrongdoing.
However the Duke will not be represented at a pretrial hearing on Monday as his legal team maintains its policy of stonewalling the claims.
A source said that Berk would not be involved in rebutting the civil claim even if it does proceed.
Ms Roberts’ lawyers lodged papers with the New York court on Friday, claiming that the Duke had been formally served in “multiple methods” that comply with both English law and the Hague Convention.
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A copy of both the summons and the complaint were emailed to his Royal household office email address and to his lawyers by both email and FedEx.
It was also delivered to his Windsor home by a professional process server, by a City Sprint same-day courier and sent by first-class post.
However Gary Bloxsome, the Duke’s lawyer, claimed correct procedure was not followed and that the papers should be served via a British court official, acting as an intermediary.
Bloxsome has previously suggested that a confidential settlement Ms Giuffre made with Jeffrey Epstein in 2009 could make her claim against the Duke invalid.
It comes as the Prince held a shooting party at the Queen’s private 550-acre Balmoral estate.
Guests at the Scottish retreat are thought to have included the Crown Prince of Bahrain, 51, who is linked to human rights abuses in his home country.
Berk’s formidable reputation has been founded on assuring big-name clients do not face criminal charges.
In her first big case she defended Ozzy Osbourne after he was accused of causing the 1984 suicide of 19-year-old John McCollum with subliminal messages through the song “Suicide Solution.”
She used a First Amendment defence of freedom of expression to get Osbourne’s case dismissed.
Regarded as the go-to lawyer for Hollywood stars, Berk was called upon by Mel Gibson when he unleashed an anti-Jewish tirade against two arresting officers.
He later apologised for the rant and after entering the no-contest plea to drunk driving and was sentenced to three years probation, ordered to pay $1,400 in fines and attend alcohol rehabilitation.
When Leonardo Di Caprio was accused by a former model of instigating an attack which resulted in him being slashed by a broken glass, he turned to Berk.
The model was eventually jailed for two years after entering a plea bargain.
Prince Andrew’s accuser meanwhile is being represented by David Boies, 80, who has a similarly fierce reputation as a “pit bull” in the courtroom.
He represented Al Gore against George W Bush when he challenged the “hanging chads” election result in Florida in the Supreme Court in 2000.
It was his challenge to Proposition 8 in California, which in 2008 had barred same-sex marriages, that succeeded in the Supreme Court in 2013.
In 2015, Boies became embroiled in one of the biggest scandals of the past decade: defending his longterm client Harvey Weinstein against an onslaught of sex assault allegations.
While defending Weinstein, who was later jailed, he worked alongside Berk.