As Jeffrey Epstein’s accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell appears to have fallen off the face of the Earth, it’s little remembered in the media how I fought a long war against her father Robert and the part I played in his downfall.
It would be scarcely worth recalling at this distance if it did not shed light, or rather a cloud of suspicion, over Maxwell’s favourite child Ghislaine, now at the centre of a dark and fascinating story as bizarre as any which enveloped her late father.
I first met Robert Maxwell when he was an enormously powerful and fiercely intimidating media mogul in the early 1980s. It was in the green room of the BBC’s then flagship program Question Time, hosted by Sir Robin Day – then the doyen of BBC grandees.
“Ah, Mr Galway (sic),” boomed Mr Maxwell, “the PLO man.” At which point he punched me so hard in the solar plexus I doubled over, tears in my eyes. As was the wont of the British establishment at the time, my fellow participants and Sir Robin himself averted their eyes and pretended not to see.
At the time and for nearly a decade, I was closely associated with the then-British satirical magazine Private Eye, writing regularly and providing stories and leads for others, regularly attending the legendary Private Eye lunches at the Soho waterie The Coach and Horses, presided over by the founder and editor of the magazine, Richard Ingrams.
About a year after Maxwell striking his first blow, I submitted a story to Private Eye which, embellished by others, was published and upon which he sued and fought an epic court battle with us. He won.
Although the editor Richard Ingrams spent a night in the cells for refusing to name me as the source, it was soon obvious to Maxwell that it was me and we began a war of attrition which lasted until his death.
In October of 1991, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and celebrity journalist Seymour Hersh caused to be delivered to my home late one Saturday night a file of papers, a synopsis of a book he had written in which he made serious allegations against Maxwell. So fearsome was Maxwell’s power at the time, he had obtained pre-publication injunctions against anyone publishing any word of it, against anyone printing it, against anyone distributing it, against anyone selling it. In Britain, the Hersh book did not exist.
But I – as a member of the British Parliament – enjoyed the ancient right of legal privilege on anything I said in the Parliament or published on the Order Paper. Moreover, so could anyone else reporting fairly anything I said or wrote there. And so I did.
Inter-alia I accused Maxwell of being a thief, of stealing his own employee’s pension funds, of being an agent of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, and of betraying the whereabouts in London of the brave Israeli Jewish whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, causing him to be kidnapped, drugged, and delivered, his jaws wired like Hannibal Lector to ensure his silence, to Israel where he eventually served decades in solitary confinement and even now is not free to talk or travel.
My allegations exploded like a nuclear bomb in the life of Robert Maxwell.
He ordered his journalistic minions (whose pensions he had stolen) to “Piss all over Galloway” and micturate they promptly did.
On the front page of all SIX of his national newspapers, they called me “a jackal” of “scavenging in the dung-heap” a “friend of Arab terrorists” (“Ah, Mr Galway (sic) the PLO man”) and above all of having lied and lied about their proprietor.
Within weeks, the missing pensions were exposed, Maxwell was dead, having fallen, jumped, or been pushed off the back of his yacht – the Lady Ghislaine – off the Canary islands, and Maxwell was given a full Israeli-state funeral on the Mount of Olives presided over by the Israeli president, prime minister and no less than seven former and serving heads of the Mossad. In the eulogy, tribute was paid to the “extraordinary service” Mr Maxwell had given to Israel. The full story of which exact “services” he had provided were buried with him in Jerusalem.
The fateful yacht was called the Lady Ghislaine because his daughter was his favourite child (other daughters were available) and she was his favourite child for a reason. Of all her siblings, Ghislaine Maxwell was the one who was most like him.
Ghislaine Maxwell’s father’s body was lost to the deep and murky waters of international intrigue. Where she will turn up is as yet unknown. What “extraordinary service” she performed and for whom equally remains to be seen.
By George Galloway