The Metropolitan Police will review new evidence into allegations of criminal activity by Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in London.
A Channel 4 investigation found at least six claims that young women and girls were allegedly targeted by Epstein and Maxwell and groomed or abused in the UK over a 10-year period.
Police in London previously decided not to investigate claims which were made in relation to disgraced financier Epstein, saying the main location of any investigation into both him and British socialite Maxwell should be in the US.
Epstein took his life in prison as he awaited trial for sex trafficking offences. Maxwell was arrested after a long pursuit from law enforcement and is awaiting trial on charges of helping secure teenage girls for him to abuse.
Channel 4 found that some of the alleged UK victims of Epstein and Maxwell had given detailed accounts of serious sexual assault and rape, and that one victim had directly approached police.
The Met faced suggestions that they failed to investigate when the allegations first came to light because of Epstein and Maxwell's association with Prince Andrew.
Maxwell had been a long time friend of Andrew, and the royal had stayed at Epstein's home on a number of occasions. He has denied any knowledge or involvement in wrongdoing after he was accused of having sex with Virginia Giuffre when she had been trafficked by Epstein.
Andrew has not been charged in any investigation, but the FBI has previously said he is not cooperating with their probe.
He and Maxwell both deny allegations made against them.
Former chief prosecutor for the North West of England, Nazir Azfal, who was involved in bringing the Rochdale grooming gang cases to court, told Channel 4: "From what I’ve seen, there is clearly enough evidence for the police to investigate more thoroughly than they have done up to now.
"It’s concerning, because we’ve got potentially victims here. And maybe other victims or alleged victims, who may if an investigation follows its course, be identified."
Asked if the pair's friendship with Epstein could have influenced a decision not to prosecute, he said: "The perception here is a different approach was taken in relation to these alleged offences, then there would be than if it was some brown guy in Rochdale, or some sex offender in London who didn’t have any standing at all.
"If this was happening anywhere else with anybody else involved there would be no doubt in my mind they would be investigated."
He tweeted that the alleged victims were left "stuck in middle of Atlantic" because "Met Police say investigating allegations in the U.K. are a matter for the US authorities" while "Maxwell’s defence team are arguing that the US cannot prosecute her for allegations in U.K. because they should be dealt with in UK".
Asked if Andrew's friendship with Maxwell may have influenced the decision, solicitor Harriet Wistrech told Channel 4: "It's hard not to conclude that might be the case.
"It's clearly an embarrassment for the Met Police. We also know that Met Police will have been involved n his personal protection, so there may be issues of conflict of interest there.
"If Prince Andrew was being taken to various premises by his Met personal protection officers, they may have had constructive knowledge of what was going on. It's not a reason not to investigate."
Channel 4 contacted potential witnesses via publicly available information, and none of those it spoke to said they had heard from the Met Police.
In August 2020, Met Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick stood by the decision that the "focus" of any investigation should be in the US.
A Met Police statement issued in June 2021 read: "The MPS always takes allegations of sexual offences and exploitation seriously.
"All officers no matter what their role are duty bound to uphold the law and conduct themselves with integrity.
"The MPS is clear that it will investigate allegations where there is sufficient evidence of an offence having taken place, where it is the appropriate authority to do so and where those against whom the allegation are made are alive.
"The MPS stands by the statement by Commander Alex Murray issued at the end of 2019.
"This confirmed that the MPS had received an allegation of non-recent trafficking for sexual exploitation against a US national, Jeffrey Epstein, and a British woman in 2015 relating to events outside of the UK and an allegation of trafficking to central London in March 2001.
"Officers assessed the available evidence, interviewed the complainant and obtained early investigative advice from the Crown Prosecution Service. However, following the legal advice, it was clear that any investigation into human trafficking would be largely focused on activities and relationships outside the UK.
"Officers therefore concluded that the MPS was not the appropriate authority to conduct enquiries in these circumstances and, in November 2016, a decision was made that this matter would not proceed to a full criminal investigation.
"In August 2019, following the death of Jeffrey Epstein, officers reviewed the decision making from 2016 and concluded that the position should remain unchanged.
"The MPS has continued to liaise and offer assistance with other law enforcement agencies who lead the investigation into matters related to Jeffrey Epstein but is unable to comment on individuals with whom they may or may not have interacted with regard any allegations of crime.
"We will always consider any new information and will review the information sent to us from Channel 4."
Watch: Ghislaine Maxwell Denied Bail On Sex Trafficking Charges