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Prince Andrew denies underage sex claim

DAVOS, Switzerland (Reuters) - Prince Andrew on Thursday made his first public comment on allegations that he had had sex with an underage girl, reiterating previous official denials.

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Speaking before world and business leaders at an event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the 54-year-old second son of the Queen said he wanted, for the record, 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 U.S. 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, underaged according to Florida law, the documents said.

Andrew, fifth in line to the throne, is not a defendant in the Florida lawsuit, which mainly centres on his former friend Epstein.

The prince has been accused in recent years of leading a lavish lifestyle at taxpayers’ expense.

In 2011 he gave up his role as Britain’s roving trade ambassador after being criticised for his friendship with Epstein, who was jailed in 2008 for child sex offences.

A royal source said at the time Andrew accepted he had been unwise to associate with Epstein but had never been involved in impropriety.

British media reported on Thursday that Roberts had lodged new papers this week further detailing the allegations involving the prince, and that her lawyers had attempted to send a letter to Andrew asking for him to be questioned under oath.

Buckingham Palace had refused to accept the letter and sent it back, according to the reports.

“We have nothing to add to our earlier comment,” a palace spokesman said of the reports.

Reporting by Rob Cox in Davos; writing by Kate Holton in London; editing by Andrew Roche