Maxwell admits Andrew puppet was in Epstein’s home in quiz over grope claims

Disgraced British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell admitted there was a Duke of York puppet in paedophile Jeffrey Epstein’s New York apartment, newly released court documents show.

The King’s brother Andrew was accused by Johanna Sjoberg of groping her breast while posing with what is reported to have been a Spitting Image puppet of himself in Epstein’s Manhattan home in 2001.

In her unsealed deposition from 2016, Maxwell said she did not recollect putting the hand of the caricature on Ms Sjoberg’s breast.

She insisted that neither she nor billionaire sex offender Epstein gave the duke the puppet as a gift but said Andrew did not bring it with him, confirming there was a “caricature of Prince Andrew that was in Jeffrey’s home”.

Ghislaine Maxwell court case
Ghislaine Maxwell with Jeffrey Epstein (US Department of Justice/PA)

Maxwell, who has since been jailed for sex trafficking young girls for Epstein, said: “There was a puppet – not a puppet – there was a – I don’t know how would you describe it really… a caricature of Prince Andrew that was in Jeffrey’s home.”

Maxwell was asked: “Did you use that caricature to put the hand of the caricature on Johanna Sjoberg’s breast?”

She replied: “I don’t recollect. I recollect the puppet but I don’t recollect anything around the puppet.”

In a bizarre exchange, Maxwell repeatedly debated the specifics of what constituted a puppet, saying she had never seen a puppet such as “a small handheld item you have in a circus” before being quizzed whether she had seen “a puppet which defined as a movable model of a person or animal that is used in entertainment and typically moved either by strings or controlled from above or by a hand inside it”.

She was asked: “Were you ever in a room with Prince Andrew in New York in Jeffrey Epstein’s home where there was a puppet?”

Maxwell replied “what sort of puppet are you asking me?” before being told: “Any kind of puppet?”

Royals attends Christmas Day Church service
The Duke of York has been named in the court papers (Joe Giddens/PA)

She said: “You need to be more descriptive. I don’t know what you mean by puppet, there is hand puppets, all sorts of puppets.”

Questioned over whether Ms Sjoberg and Virginia Giuffre were in the presence of the duke with the puppet, Maxwell said: “I don’t recollect the story as told by Johanna or Virginia. I don’t even know who – I remember the caricature of Prince Andrew and I remember Prince Andrew but I don’t recall anything else around the caricature.”

The duke paid millions out of court to settle a civil sexual assault case brought by Ms Giuffre, with no admission of guilt.

She alleges she was trafficked by Epstein to have sex with Andrew three times when she was 17 and a minor under US law at Maxwell’s London home, in Epstein’s New York home and during an orgy on Epstein’s Caribbean island.

The duke strenuously denies all allegations.

The names of more than 170 people who were either associates, friends or victims of Epstein are being made public following a judge’s order, including high-profile figures such as former US president Bill Clinton, in the unsealing of hundreds of pages of legal papers relating to a 2015 defamation case.