Ghislaine Maxwell, who is accused of grooming underage victims for sexual abuse by the disgraced US financier Jeffrey Epstein, is scheduled to appear in a New York court this week as fresh details emerge of her arrest in an FBI raid.
More than 20 armed agents and police are reported to have taken part in the early-morning operation on Thursday that led to her being handcuffed at her secluded, rural retreat in New Hampshire and taken into custody.
Officers were said to have broken down the front door at the 156-acre property, which is called Tucked Away. Her arrest ended almost a year of speculation over her whereabouts following the death of Epstein in a New York jail last summer; some reports had suggested she was in Los Angeles, others that she had moved to Paris.
Born in Maisons-Laffitte, Île-de-France, in 1961, Ghislaine Maxwell is the youngest of the nine children of Betty and Robert Maxwell, the media tycoon owner of the Mirror Group
Ghislaine was rumoured to be his favourite child, and the former Labour MP named his £15m ($18.6m) yacht Lady Ghislaine after her. He put his daughter in charge of his football club he owned, Oxford United, and when he acquired the New York Daily News, he reportedly sent Ghislaine to warm up Manhattan society for his arrival.
Following her father’s death in 1991 – after apparently falling overboard from Lady Ghislaine near the Canary Islands – Ghislaine Maxwell flew to New York onboard a Concorde. She left behind a huge uproar over $460m found to be missing from her father’s companies’ pensions funds.
Her family’s wealth, status and influence considerably depleted, Maxwell found something of a replacement in her relationship with Jeffrey Epstein. Their relationship was initially romantic, but it evolved into something more akin to that of a close friend, confidante and personal assistant. Epstein was later convicted of sex offences, and subsequently died in prison in 2019.
In 2015, Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein’s accusers, sued Maxwell, alleging the British socialite defamed her by claiming she was a liar in her accusations against Maxwell and Epstein. Giuffre has accused Maxwell of recruiting her to work as Epstein’s masseuse at the age 15, when she was a locker-room attendant at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in south Florida. Documents released as part of the lawsuit contain lurid claims about the alleged sex trafficking.
In July 2020, after having been in hiding, Maxwell was arrested by the FBI on charges related to Jeffrey Epstein.
Maxwell, 58, a close friend of Prince Andrew, is being held in Merrimack County jail, New Hampshire. She is due to be transferred to New York and brought to court later this week.
The youngest child of the publisher Robert Maxwell, Ghislaine faces six charges including conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, enticement of a minor to travel to engage in illegal sex acts, conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, and perjury.
If convicted, she could face up to 35 years in prison. She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
New York prosecutors, who led the investigation, have said they will oppose any bail application on the grounds that Maxwell may flee. Her lawyers are expected to argue that she enjoys immunity under a previous deal Epstein made with prosecutors in Florida and that the charges against her are out of time and consequently barred by the US statute of limitations.
Over the weekend, pictures emerged of Ghislaine Maxwell and the American actor Kevin Spacey sitting on thrones belonging to the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh during a visit to Buckingham Palace in 2002.
Maxwell is a close friend of Prince Andrew, who visited Epstein at his homes in New York and elsewhere. The prince has been accused of having sex with a girl provided by Epstein, Virginia Giuffre, when she was 17 – a claim he categorically denies.
US prosecutors are understood to have sent the UK Home Office a formal request for mutual legal assistance over the case, which could lead to Prince Andrew being summoned to attend court to answer questions about his knowledge of the claims.
On Sunday, the Home Office again declined to confirm whether there had been a formal approach. A spokesperson said: “As a matter of longstanding policy and practice, we neither confirm nor deny the existence of mutual legal assistance requests.”
Lawyers for the Duke of York last month issued a statement accusing US investigators of misleading the public and breaching their own confidentiality rules in their handling of the inquiry. They said three offers of help volunteered by the prince had been rejected. His lawyers declined to make any further comment on Sunday.
(January 1, 1999)
In the early 90s, Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of British media tycoon Robert Maxwell, met investment banker and financier Jeffrey Epstein. Their relationship was initially romantic, but it evolved into something more akin to that of Maxwell being a close friend, confidante and personal assistant.
The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, was reportedly introduced to Epstein through their mutual friend Maxwell in 1999, and Epstein reportedly visited the Queen’s private retreat in Aberdeenshire.
Some have suggested the introduction was made earlier. A 2011 letter to the Times of London from the prince’s then private secretary, Alastair Watson, suggests Andrew and Epstein knew each other from the early 90s.
(January 1, 2000)
Andrew, Maxwell and Epstein are seen together at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. Later that year, Epstein and Maxwell attend a joint birthday party at Windsor Castle hosted by the Queen.
(January 1, 2001)
Andrew and Epstein holiday together and are pictured on a yacht in Phuket, Thailand, surrounded by topless women. The Times of London reported the prince’s holiday was paid for by Epstein.
In the same year, Virginia Giuffre, then 17, claims to have had sex with Andrew in Maxwell’s home in Belgravia, London. Giuffre, whose surname was Roberts at the time of the alleged incidents, says she slept with Andrew twice more, at Epstein’s New York home and at an “orgy” on his private island in the Caribbean.
(January 1, 2008)
Epstein is jailed for 18 months by a Florida state court after pleading guilty to prostituting minors.
(January 1, 2010)
Soon after his release, Epstein is visited by Andrew in New York. The pair are photographed together in Central Park. Footage emerges years later, reportedly shot on 6 December, that appears to show Andrew inside Epstein’s Manhattan mansion waving goodbye to a woman from behind a door.
(January 1, 2011)
Andrew quits his role as UK trade envoy following a furore over the Central Park photos.
(January 1, 2015)
Allegations that Andrew had sex with Giuffre emerge in court documents in Florida related to Epstein. The papers say she was forced to have sex with Andrew when she was 17, which is under the age of consent under Florida law. Buckingham Palace denies the allegations. The claims against Andrew are later struck from US civil court records following a federal judge’s ruling.
(January 1, 2019)
Andrew is accused of sexual impropriety by a second alleged Epstein victim, Johanna Sjoberg. She claims he touched her breast at the billionaire’s Manhattan apartment in 2001. Buckingham Palace says the allegations are 'categorically untrue'.
(August 10, 2019)
Epstein is found dead in his jail cell after being re-arrested and charged with sex trafficking. A medical examiner says the death was a suicide.
A pilot on Epstein’s private jet later that month claims Andrew was a passenger on past flights with the financier and Giuffre.
(November 20, 2019)
Andrew takes part in a disastrous BBC TV interview during which he claims he could not have had sex with Giuffre because he was at home after a visit to Pizza Express in Woking, and that her description of his dancing with her beforehand could not be true because he was unable to sweat, and that he had "no recollection of ever meeting this lady". After several days of negative reaction, Andrew announces he is to step back from public duties 'for the foreseeable future'.
(January 27, 2020)
US prosecutor Geoffrey Berman gives a public statement suggesting there has been 'zero cooperation' with the investigation from Andrew.
(June 8, 2020)
After Berman again claims the prince has 'completely shut the door' on cooperating with the US investigation in March, lawyers for Andrew insist he has repeatedly offered to cooperate and accuse US prosecutors of misleading the public and breaching confidentiality.
(July 2, 2020)
Maxwell, who has seldom been seen in public in recent years, is arrested by the FBI on charges related to Epstein.
Laura Goldman, a former investment banker friend of Maxwell, said at the weekend she believed Maxwell would “never” disclose information about the Duke of York. Goldman, who said she had known Maxwell since she moved to the US, told BBC Radio she would “have to” go for a plea deal with prosecutors.
Goldman added: “[Ghislaine] has always told me she would never, ever say anything about [Prince Andrew]. I think she felt he was her friend and she was never going to say anything about him.”
Goldman said she last spoke to Maxwell “a couple of weeks ago”, adding: “She knew she was coming to the end of the road.” Maxwell, she said, was a victim of Epstein and was always “a little afraid” of him.
Geoffrey Berman, the New York attorney who led the investigation into Epstein and also into some of Donald Trump’s associates, was sacked by the president last month, adding a further political dimension to the saga. On Tuesday, Berman is due to give evidence to a congressional judiciary committee in a session that may reveal more about the investigation.
British victims of Epstein have yet to come forward, according to a US lawyer for a compensation fund to help those who were abused. Jordana Feldman, the architect of the programme, said: “We believe there are victims yet to come forward around the world, including in the UK.”
Jill Greenfield, head of personal injury at the London-based law firm Fieldfisher, said: “I am working with the victims’ fund to ensure that the confidentiality of the UK victims that is built into this process is sufficient to protect them. This is particularly important given that UK victims of sexual assault are granted automatic anonymity, which is not automatic in the US.”