IAN Maxwell is, quite understandably, a staunch defender of his sister Ghislaine. Recently, the growing concerns that he and his siblings hold over her treatment whilst languishing in a New York prison cell, and indeed the very nature of the ongoing prosecution of her, have motivated the businessman to speak out publicly. In an interview with political and media-scrutinising site VoteWatch, Jay Beecher speaks exclusively to Mr Maxwell, to gain an insight into the past, the present, and the uncertain future.
“I, my younger brother Kevin and Ghislaine – I am two years older than him and five years older than her – are the youngest in our family” Ian tells me, in his typical calm and affable manner. “Our immediate older sister Karine died from childhood leukaemia aged 3 in 1957 and so there was suddenly a six-year gap to the next oldest siblings – the Twins, Isabel and Christine.
“The three of us were particularly close growing up, sharing a nursery for the first few years and playing together before Kevin and I headed off aged 7 to boarding school where Ghislaine would follow in due course.
“One of our favourite games when she was very young was to teach Ghislaine bad words (which of course she did not know the meaning of) and then encourage her to use them in front of our parents when they had guests over which got us into trouble but made Kevin and I hoot with laughter as when Ghislaine, around 4, told a former Principal of Brasenose College, Oxford to “piss off” when he asked her how old she was. We had told Ghislaine that was a form of greeting!
“I recall she always had pets growing up: guinea pigs, dogs and horses. I also remember well our mother taking the three of us during the school holidays on camping expeditions around the UK in the early 1970s.”
“It is fair to say that the Maxwells experienced a slightly different childhood to many – influenced by the lifestyle afforded them by their successful father. Yet despite the hectic years of pre- and post-adolescence, the family managed to remain bonded throughout.
“We were always close” Ian says “keeping in touch by phone and then later by text and email. After she started living in the States from 1991 onwards, Ghislaine would still frequently come to England and would always make a point of seeing Kevin and me, and we were broadly aware of the big events in each other’s lives.
“All three of us were boarders at Marlborough College in Wiltshire and then went on to Balliol College, Oxford and had many mutual friends. Despite being a much-travelled family, all of the Maxwell siblings have remained close, although as we’ve grown older the times when we can all manage to get together are becoming rarer.
“The whole family celebrated our mother’s 90th birthday in 2011 for example and spontaneously managed a get together in London on 10th June 2019 – on what would have been the 96th birthday of our father.
“It goes without saying that we are greatly looking forward to all being together with Ghislaine again post her trial.
Asked how he’d describe his sister Ghislaine, Ian said: “Intelligent, feisty, determined, energetic, original, empathetic, generous and constructive; with a ready smile and a terrific sense of humour.
“She has proved an outstanding, much loved and now much-missed godmother, aunt, sister, co-worker, caregiver and a consistently supportive, generous and loyal friend – all attested to by the letters provided in support of her bail application.
“Until her arrest, Ghislaine’s heart lay with the TerraMar Project, the charity she started in 2011 to help educate people on the importance of protecting the world’s oceans. She would say ‘we are one people with one planet and one shared destiny’.
“The health of the oceans affects all of us even if we don’t all live close to them. Ghislaine remains a firm believer in the importance of alerting the world to climate change and in particular its profound influence on the warming of the oceans which in turn has led to increased numbers of ever more ferocious storms and their disproportionate impact on populations living at or below sea level; and the over exploitation of fish stocks that feed 1 billion people a day, providing their primary source of protein, the diminution of which is impacting the livelihoods of millions.
“It was with enormous regret that Ghislaine decided to close TerraMar to protect supporters and corporate partners from the cancel culture and public opprobrium.
Interestingly, despite her well-documented torment behind bars – denied basic human rights, and perhaps (thanks overwhelmingly to the mainstream media) even the simple right to be considered innocent unless proven guilty – Ghislaine Maxwell appears to be making plans for the future, intending to use her current traumatic experiences to campaign for better treatment of prisoners, particularly those detained pre-trial.
“Following 11 months as a pre-trial detainee, Ghislaine’s mind has turned to how she can use her high profile and personal experience of this nightmare to benefit other pre-trial detainees now and in the future” her brother tells me. “She is determined to use her platform to shine a light on the terrible and unconstitutional treatment of pretrial detainees held in the custody of the US Bureau of Prisons (BoP). The conditions are truly appalling.
“Practical things we know she would seek to have changed or at least improved include greater access to lawyers and working computers so that detainees can review their discovery and improve communication with their families in part to preserve their own mental health.
“She is also concerned that the BOP operates as a world unto itself, lacks transparency and has no effective oversight by people concerned with the Constitutional Rights of the accused and the presumption of innocence.
“By way of example, when my sister was abused in prison her lawyers were denied the right to see the camera footage of the abuse and she was then further abused and punished when she reported it, in an attempt to silence her.”
This is not the first time that Mr Maxwell has spoken out against the questionable treatment of his sister.
“No human being should have to go through what she’s been put through,” he has previously said. “This is not the way that a democratic country should be running its prison system. It’s grotesque, and in that respect, it amounts to torture”.
And it appears that not only does the Constitution agree with him, but now, so too do prominent judges who have called into question Ms Maxwell’s abnormal treatment at the hands of a justice system accused of being hellbent on using her as a ‘patsy’ to cover their own failures in prosecuting Jeffrey Epstein.
In April, a three-judge bench at New York’s 2nd Circuit Court of Appeal – one of the most influential in America – pressed a government attorney on complaints filed by Maxwell’s defence counsel, who has repeatedly joined others in claiming Maxwell has been unnecessarily treated as a suicide risk.
“Is she a suicide risk or not?” U.S. Circuit Judge Richard Sullivan, a Donald Trump appointee demanded to know at the hearing. “Has the BOP concluded she’s a suicide risk, or is it some other reason that they’re shining lights all night long?”
Answering, Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura Pomerantz said the government has not been told that Maxwell is a suicide risk, and passed-off the conditions of Maxwell’s confinement as “routine”.
“Routine to shine lights into the eyes of every prisoner every fifteen minutes during the night?” Pierre Leval, another prominent judge, appointed by President Clinton, asked with suspicion. “Are you really telling us that?”
“There is absolutely nothing routine about it,” Defence Attorney David Markus interjected. “She’s been treated differently than any inmate ever in that institution.”
“BOP has never come out and said Ghislaine Maxwell is suicidal, because she’s not” he added. “They do this for the reason that Judge Leval said, which is they don’t want an embarrassment like they had with Jeffrey Epstein. But that’s not a reason to treat someone in inhumane conditions so that they can’t prepare for trial.”
“For example, she’s kept up at night every 15 minutes with lights shined in her eyes so that they can check her breathing.
“She’s not suicidal. There’s no evidence that she’s suicidal. Why is the Bureau of Prisons doing this? They’re doing this because Jeffrey Epstein died on their watch.
“She is sure she is not alone in this sanctioned torture by the BOP” Ian Maxwell tells me. “Her letters to the relevant authorities reporting the abuse have mysteriously been ‘lost’ and there have been no replies to her numerous letters detailing manifest failings of due care.
“Other areas Ghislaine wants to focus on include bad water, bad food and rodent infestation, mould, no access to outdoor space and the completely unsatisfactory conditions in which inmates are housed which should be an embarrassment to the richest country in the world.”
When pressed on how the image of his sister compares to the one projected by the press and international media, and how newspapers have handled the case in general, Mr Maxwell says: “Simply put, her present media image is a 180 degrees from who she really is.
“One of the objectives of the Ghislaine Maxwell Is Innocent (realghislaine.com) website is to redress that balance in a small way. The fact is, however, in particular since Ghislaine’s arrest but already in the year leading up to it, everything she had worked for with TerraMar most notably and other less publicised endeavours of hers, was swept to one side by the relentless determination of the media to focus on her relationship with Epstein which was in fact a small part of her life and in the big scheme of things, far less significant than it has been portrayed. But it has been blown up out of all proportion such that it has come to define her which is as pernicious as it is wrong.
“We’ve recently had the report by Lord Dyson detailing his findings about the events surrounding Martin Bashir’s infamous interview of Princess Diana. It is clear now that that interview was obtained based on fake material created and supplied by the media.
“In the case of Ghislaine, early in the creation of ‘her narrative’, chequebook journalism was used by one media organisation to create fake material subsequently presented as the Gospel truth and the story went from there.
“It was the media storm that led to the DoJ and the FBI opportunistically staging a highly theatrical raid and then calling a dramatic press conference in which staged photographs and gestures encouraged trial by media. This in turn has clearly also played a key role in the judge’s denying Ghislaine bail three times.
“Since the start, with occasional and notable exceptions, the media’s reporting of Ghislaine has been as one-sided as it has been wrong. This despite the now discredited journalist who ‘broke’ the original story having admitted supplying the fake material, turning on her own key witness and casting serious doubt on her testimony. And the behind the scenes, shady role of William Barr, the Attorney General at the time of Ghislaine’s arrest, determined to distance the family name from the story.
“It was Barr’s own father, Donald, Principal of Dalton School, who hired Jeffrey Epstein and was responsible for launching him on the world. Neither of these critical developments has been properly investigated by a media still repeating the original fake narrative.
“So my poor sister has been languishing in jail for over 345 days with the connivance of the authorities and the media. Her case is the classic illustration of the well-know Mark Twain adage that “…a lie can travel around the world and back again while the truth is lacing up its boots”. The media has much to answer for in this case.”
I ask Ian Maxwell if he believes that the media have had too much influence on the legal case.
“In the United States, without a doubt” he is quick to reply. “Here in the UK the rules of contempt of court are rigorously enforced so commenting on a court case, for example on social media or in the press or on television before the verdict has been returned is not permitted. In the US, the legal process appears far more susceptible to being influenced by both mainstream and social media.
“Indeed, the US Attorneys for the SDNY (The Prosecutors for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York) actively seek to influence the media, the public and potential jurors in respect of their prosecutions to the detriment of justice it seems to me.
“The press conference held by the SDNY’s Chief US Attorney, together with the FBI, to announce the arrest of my sister back in July 2020, had no legal justification whatsoever other than to prejudice Ghislaine significantly in the eyes of the world, including the judge hearing the case, potential jurors and of course the media.
“That prejudicial view of my sister, based on an initial fraud upon her designed and created by self-replicating media using anonymous sources, has never changed. Even when it is pointed out that a named or unnamed source doesn’t know Ghislaine, or hasn’t spoken with her whilst in custody for example, the media doesn’t stop reporting that source making highly damaging claims about her that have no basis in any reality.
“Much like the wholly fake narrative created by Carl Beech that was used to smear and to ensnare a number of prominent innocent parties here in Britain, the fake narrative about my sister is no different except that in her case, based entirely on fake news, she has already been jailed without bail for over 11 months and counting.”
When asked about the numerous inconsistencies and clear fabrications in accounts put forward by accusers of his sister – some of which I’d previously highlighted myself – Ian Maxwell said:
“The inconsistencies are well documented in the numerous accounts of those accusers who have chosen to ‘out’ themselves publicly. One only has to read Alan Dershowitz’s book Guilt by Accusation by way of one example to see the extent of such inconsistencies.
“Whether it’s because over the years – most of the allegations against my sister date back nearly a quarter of a century – these accusers have simply become confused, or determined to maximise the potential for pay-outs to them from the Epstein Victims’ Compensation Program or, God forbid, they may even have been suborned by unscrupulous ambulance chasers and the like, I just don’t know. But the key point to be made is that not one of these accusers has been cross examined on oath in a court of law and, for fear of “blaming victims”, the media has not done its job in challenging their inconsistent, frequently self-serving stories.
“Take the matter of the original of the photograph of Prince Andrew, alleged to have been taken at my sister’s London house, which has never been produced to this day. There are countless stories about who has seen it, when it was “seen” and “how it was seen”, “when it was taken” and “who took it” and none of the versions are consistent as to who has seen it and where the original – or if there even was an original – is allegedly located.
“Right now, whatever the accusers say can only be treated as untested, unproven and uncorroborated allegations and my sister, who has consistently denied all such allegations, answered questions under oath for days already and has pleaded not guilty to all the charges she has been indicted with, is entitled to – and indeed must be – presumed innocent.
“We were all shocked and appalled that Ghislaine was arrested. Until that happened, there was no indication she was being sought by the authorities in any jurisdiction. Indeed, her lawyers indicated to the FBI her availability for interview months before her arrest and on many occasions which were never followed up by the Prosecutors.”
As to the increasingly supported belief that his sister is being used – via ‘guilt by association’ – as a scapegoat by prosecutors, her brother is crystal clear on where he stands.
“Until Jeffrey Epstein’s death and her own subsequent arrest she had neither been charged nor indicted in any jurisdiction with the charges she is currently facing which for the most part date back 25 years, charges by the way that the U.S. Government did not bring against Jeffrey Epstein whilst he was alive.
“In fact, in the earlier exhaustive 2005-6 investigation of Epstein conducted by the Palm Beach Police Department in Florida, the lead detective said in a sworn deposition in 2016 that Ghislaine was not named in any police reports or warrants, her name was never raised in the Grand Jury of 2005 and nor was she named in the 2008 State indictment. In addition, her name was not included in the 2019 Federal indictment of Epstein.
“One is left with the inescapable conclusion that, faced with the public uproar and the ignominy of having lost Epstein on their ‘watch’, and at the behest of then Attorney General, William Barr, who expressed himself at various times as “appalled” and “livid” at “…MCC’s failure to adequately secure this prisoner”, the SDNY rapidly had to find a suitably high-profile replacement for Epstein and effectively ‘reverse-engineered’ these ancient charges against my sister as the perfect ‘patsy’. Such is the ‘Epstein effect’
“As the family has said since her arrest, however, Ghislaine is not Epstein. But the authorities are just not interested – square peg, round hole or otherwise: if it jams, force it; if it breaks, it needs replacing anyway.
“So determined to obtain a ‘win’ at all costs are the SDNY that they will stop at nothing in this case. In Ghislaine’s latest pre-trial motion asking the court to uphold the non-prosecution agreement, the Prosecution’s opposition demonstrates on the one hand their desire to get her at all costs and their utter contempt for the law on the other. The exact same allegations were made against Epstein but did not reference my sister in any way and now they have re-engineered the identical accusations with the same language, inserting Ghislaine’s name.
“Furthermore, contrary to all rules of natural justice and fairness they continue to this day to withhold the names of the four accusers behind the charges as well as the specifics of those charges from my sister and her legal team, with her trial just over five months away. This despite many accusers having spoken willingly and openly to the press in many countries. This is a sure sign of the weakness of the prosecution’s case as much as anything else and is wholly indicative of the kind of flat-track bullies we are dealing with here.”
I ask him to elaborate on his previous statements about how he feels the legal case has been handled.
“Where to begin?” he sighs. “Because of the ‘Epstein effect’ I referred to above; the role and wholly inappropriate comments of William Barr in the lead up to and following the arrest of Ghislaine; the pre-determined media impact of the SDNY press conference following her arrest; the consistently one-sided narrative in the media against Ghislaine and the savvy PR moves by the accusers and their attorneys (paid for we know not how); not to mention the macro forces involved including most prominently the #MeToo movement, my sister has been treated – and the case has been handled – in a wholly prejudicial manner from the start. She has never been accorded the presumption of innocence, the cornerstone of justice, to which all defendants are entitled.
“Ghislaine’s wholly unnecessary and degrading treatment in solitary isolation in prison; the denial of bail to her five times now plus the peremptory dismissal of 99% of all her important pre-trial motions to date, makes it seem that she has already been judged, with punishment already being meted out every day and the outcome of the trial therefore a foregone conclusion.
“You would think I’m talking about Belorussian or Iranian justice here rather than that of the world’s supposed leading Western democracy which America holds itself out to be. It is as shocking as it is scandalous. And to cap it all, it seems unimaginable to me that my sister is potentially facing life in prison whilst the guards who let Epstein die on their watch receive community service.”
The ongoing media circus and court room dramas surrounding his sister have understandably taken their toll on Ian and his family.
“Ghislaine is in my head all the time and those of all my siblings” he tells me. “Together we are working as best we can to seek improvement of the harsh conditions Ghislaine continues to endure. Constant pressure in the form of letters detailing abuses she is suffering during her incarceration as well as new pre-trial motions are before the judge hearing the case and the SDNY conducting it.
“Something has to be changed soon with these conditions or the toll on my sister will surely begin to tell physically if not psychologically. Continuing to deprive her of sleep by shining a torch in her eyes every 15 minutes throughout the night for over 11 months – a practice not even condoned in the infamous Guantanamo prison – is the very definition of torture and must be stopped. There is simply no justification for it, period.
Asked if he and Ghislaine are in regular contact, he says that he communicates with her from time to time through her lawyers.
“We also write to her and constantly are encouraging her – she is VERY much loved by me and by all her brothers and sisters, as well as by her many, many friends around the world who continue to write to her and indeed to us about her.
“Before her arrest was the last time I spoke to her. Ghislaine is, I know, hugely grateful for all the support her defence team, friends, family, and indeed strangers who write to her, are providing. She is stoical, quietly courageous and remains completely dedicated to proving her innocence and fully expects to be exonerated.”
On the future, and his hopes and expectations of a fair trial, Ian says:
“My immediate hope of course is that we are at least able to put an end to her being tortured through lack of sleep by stopping those torches being shone in her eyes all night. There is no reason for it other than as punishment and as a pre-trial detainee Ghislaine is by definition innocent so these actions are as inappropriate as they are cruel and unusual.
“On the assumption she can prepare properly for trial and mount her defence, I hope and believe my sister will be successful and will indeed be exonerated. She has so much to offer the world still and, by her personal experience this past year, now has now the credibility and knowledge in the pre-trial detainee world to seek to change it decisively for the better and to ensure that the principle of innocent until proven guilty means something still and is not just for show.”