Ian Maxwell thumps the arm of his chair. “It makes me damn angry,” he says, in reference to his sister’s plight.
Ghislaine Maxwell has already been incarcerated for 471 days, held in isolation in a tiny jail cell in Brooklyn, awaiting trial on sexual abuse and trafficking charges for alleged crimes committed between 20 and 27 years ago.
She has already spent far longer in jail than Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier and her former boyfriend.
Ian Maxwell, the big brother of the Maxwell clan, finds it hard to believe his family, almost never out of the news since his father, Robert Maxwell, was declared 50 years ago by an official report of the Department of Trade and Industry to be unfit to run a publicly listed company, continues to attract so much attention.
“This is Succession in spades,” he says, comparing it to the award-winning drama series about a media mogul. On November 4, 1991, Robert Maxwell fell overboard to his death from his yacht, Lady Ghislaine, as the Mirror group pension scandal engulfed him.
“Bob Maxwell died 30 years ago and in the same month Ghislaine is facing her moment of truth,” says Ian. “This family has been somehow – the father mostly and now the children – in the news since 1971.”
He reels off the events that have shaped their lives, from Robert Maxwell’s death to his own fraud trial with younger brother Kevin (they were both acquitted in 1996) and then, just as family members are getting on with their lives, “bang”, he says – his sister is charged.
Ian Maxwell (65) is defiant, running from London a campaign to ensure Ghislaine gets a fair hearing.
“This is a family that sticks together,” he says. “Ghislaine has people who love her, people who trust her. This is a family that has been knocked down, gets up, gets knocked down again and then gets up.
“We are a family that fights for each other – and this is a big fight we are in – and we are hopeful justice will prevail, as it must.”
This week, just over a month before her criminal trial is due to start, Ghislaine Maxwell and her legal team were officially given the names of the women who accuse her of recruiting them as teenage girls for Epstein to sexually abuse. The charges relate to alleged offences committed between 1994 and to 2004.
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the woman who has accused Prince Andrew of sexual assault and rape, is not among the complainants in the Maxwell trial. She has separately in civil proceedings accused Epstein and Ms Maxwell of trafficking her to London and forcing her to have sex with Queen Elizabeth’s son.
Ms Maxwell settled a defamation claim brought by Ms Giuffre in 2017 after she accused her of lying and now Ms Giuffre is suing Prince Andrew, who has always denied the allegation.
At the same time as the legal team learned the names of the accusers, the Metropolitan Police said it had re-examined Ms Giuffre’s claims and was not opening a full-blown investigation.
“It’s an extraordinary situation,” says Ian Maxwell. “Neither the UK police nor, it would seem, the US authorities are using the allegations of Virginia Giuffre.
“They didn’t use them as far as I know in the arrest and prosecution of Epstein in 2008 and didn’t use them again in 2019 [when Epstein was arrested a second time]. They are not using Giuffre’s testimony in the prosecution of Ghislaine.
“If her claims are strong and true and there is back-up evidence to support them, why aren’t they using them?”
Ian Maxwell cannot believe Ms Giuffre would make up her claims. “The key thing about it, it seems to me, is she is at the centre of the whole allegation against Prince Andrew and the defamation case against Ghislaine. So I cannot believe anyone would be so evil as to tell lies about what may have happened that has resulted in my sister being in prison for nearly 500 days and has ruined the life of Prince Andrew.
“What seems evident is that she was deeply confused. She seems to me to be a very, very confused lady.”
The worry for Team Maxwell is that, in the court of public opinion, Ghislaine is already convicted.
Ian Maxwell insists his sister is wholly innocent and, that while she was close to Epstein for a number of years, she was unaware, and certainly not involved in, his sexual abuse of scores of women and teenage girls.