Ghislaine Maxwell: Two men, one woman, and a journey which ended in a New York courtroom

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  • Robert Maxwell
    Czechoslovak-born British media proprietor and Member of Parliament (1923-1991)
  • Ghislaine Maxwell
    Ghislaine Maxwell

When Ghislaine Maxwell faced the cameras in November 1991, from the deck of a yacht named in her honour, she spoke in memory of a man whose wealth and success had collapsed into disgrace and shame.

FULL STORY: Ghislaine Maxwell found guilty of sex trafficking charges

The day before, her father, the newspaper tycoon Robert Maxwell, had been found drowned after disappearing from that yacht in the waters off Tenerife in the Canary Islands.

His death came after it was revealed that he had raided the pension fund of one of his businesses of more than £400m to prop up his empire in the face of huge debts. Conspiracy theories swirled over how he had met his death.

Who could have thought back then that, 30 years on, Ghislaine Maxwell would face justice for her actions in the orbit of another powerful man whose life ended in ignominy?

From the deck of the Lady Ghislaine in 1991, Maxwell spoke on behalf of her family to "thank all the many hundreds of people who have sent messages of support to us at this very, very sad time".

'She was the apple of Maxwell's eye'

Standing close by that day was the man who had identified her father's body. Ken Lennox, then the senior photographer with the Daily Mirror, was witness to a defining moment in Ghislaine Maxwell's life.

"She was very upset. She was a daddy's girl. She was the apple of Maxwell's eye."

Looking back three decades on, Mr Lennox sees parallels between the two men who came to dominate Ghislaine Maxwell's life.

"When she met Jeffrey (Epstein), he was the same kind of man again. I think she was under the influence of a man who in many ways resembled her father."

Moved to New York

It was after Maxwell moved to New York to escape the shadow of her father's life and crimes that she became close to Epstein.

With him, she enjoyed the same trappings of wealth and power, the private jets and the parties, from those of her youth.

Prince Andrew was a friend from her university days, and her connections to royalty were just one strand of the network of power and influence she and Epstein continued to build.

Her trial featured a who's who of famous names who travelled on Epstein's private jets. None of them were accused of any wrongdoing, but all of them helped paint a picture of the world the couple inhabited.

One of the lawyers representing women who have made accusations against Epstein says the privilege and exclusivity he and Maxwell enjoyed spared them closer scrutiny of what was going on in the privacy of their multiple homes.

And Spencer Kuvin says Ghislaine Maxwell provided a reassuring presence for young women brought into Epstein's world.

"Mr Epstein would never have been able to abuse the number of women that he did, had it not been for the part that Ghislaine Maxwell played in that sexual pyramid."

It has been reported that it was Robert Maxwell himself who actually introduced his daughter to Epstein in 1988. Two men, one woman, and the beginning of a journey that ended in a New York courtroom.

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