Prince Andrew’s American friend Jeffrey Epstein "tampered witnesses" to hide the truth about claims that the Duke of York repeatedly had sex with an underage girl over a three-year period, The Telegraph reported, citing U.S. investigators. The allegations came to light in documents filed in a court in relation to a legal battle between U.S. prosecutors and Epstein.

Epstein, who allegedly trafficked an underage girl to the second son of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, reportedly provided financial support to witnesses who later maintained silence when questioned by prosecutors if the girls were “provided for sex” to Prince Andrew. Lawyers of several women who alleged that they were victims of sex crimes perpetrated by Epstein reportedly said that they were facing trouble gathering evidence from key witnesses as their legal fees were paid for by the billionaire investment banker.

A court statement reportedly listed about 10 employees and associates of Epstein who were being represented by lawyers paid for by the convicted sex offender. Epstein, at one time a banker at Bear Stearns, was reportedly friends with Prince Andrew until the latter broke off contact in 2009, after the banker was sentenced to 18 months in prison for soliciting sex from a 14-year-old girl at his Florida mansion in 2008.

Buckingham Palace denied claims made in the court documents that Prince Andrew “sexually abused” a 17-year-old girl called Virginia Roberts. Sarah Ferguson, the former wife of Prince Andrew, reportedly described him as “the best man in the world” in her first comments since the allegations surfaced last week.

In the court papers, Roberts alleges that Epstein sexually exploited her between 1999 and 2002. The documents also named Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.

According to the UK's Sunday Times, Epstein secured a “non-prosecution agreement” with U.S. prosecutors in 2007, which protected both Epstein and any “potential co-conspirators” from several criminal charges in relation to the sex-trafficking ring.

The court documents obtained by the paper also revealed that Epstein used his “significant social and political connections,” including enlisting the help of former U.S. President Bill Clinton to obtain the deal.