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Ghislaine Maxwell was last night reported to be ready to co-operate with the American authorities in their ongoing investigation into Prince Andrew’s late friend Jeffrey Epstein.
The socialite daughter of the disgraced late media tycoon Robert Maxwell has been accused of recruiting underage girls for the financier Epstein, her benefactor and sometime boyfriend.
She has even been described as the ‘madam of the house’ by a former housekeeper at Epstein’s mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. Hitherto, she has always emphatically denied misconduct.
Virginia Roberts, Epstein’s former ‘sex slave’ who claims she was loaned out to Prince Andrew, alleged in a a document newly released by a US court that Miss Maxwell took part in sex sessions as well.
Thomas Volscho, an associate professor of sociology at the City University of New York who is writing a book about the Epstein case, said that Miss Maxwell was now ‘target number one’ for prosecutors.
‘They are going to want to hold somebody to account and there is going to be enormous pressure on Maxwell as she has been accused of being heavily involved with Epstein,’ he said. ‘I would imagine she is petrified’.
The suggestion that Miss Maxwell, 58, will assist the criminal case presents a further dramatic twist in a story which threatens to do yet more damage to the Royal Family’s public image.
It was Prince Andrew’s ex-wife, Sarah, who first introduced him to ‘Good Time Ghislaine’, as her friends called her.
The first report of their friendship was a footnote in a newspaper diary column from early 1999. ‘Prince Andrew keeps interesting company these days,’ it began. ‘He’s just attended a dinner hosted by Ghislaine Maxwell.’
By April 2000 Ghislaine and Andrew were spotted sharing one of several intimate lunch dates together. They sat hand in hand while dining on lobster salad – she sipped a champagne cocktail – at Nello restaurant on New York’s Madison Avenue.
His police bodyguard watched discreetly and fell in step behind Andrew once he had paid the £90 bill in cash. Miss Maxwell left separately in order to avoid the paparazzi.
But, she and the Duke of York were not in a romantic relationship. Indeed, as his new found confidante and social fixer she was far, far more important to him than that.
Andrew had turned 40 in the first weeks of the Millennium and was in the throes of a midlife crisis, according to some royal observers. Divorced, teetotal, and piling on the pounds, he had few interests beyond his daughters, watching videos and golf.
Now, Miss Maxwell was to introduce him to another, strange and no doubt far more exciting world; that of a wealthy trans-Atlantic demi monde. And at its heart was her mysterious boyfriend-cum-patron and father figure, the multi-millionaire New York financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Private jets, VIP nightclubs and beach resorts were the necessary accoutrements for this social whirl. And with them came an endless supply of beautiful young women, often very young. Unfortunately, the prince has paid a high price for his brief sortie into this environment. He has become fixed as one of the characters in a celebrity paedophile sex scandal which will not go away.
A tranche of court papers relating to a libel case brought by Virginia Roberts against Miss Maxwell for calling her a liar were released on Friday. Among the allegations were that the prince fondled an underage girl called Johanna Sjoberg in Epstein’s Manhattan apartment and slept with Miss Roberts while on a night out with the financier in London.
Thousands more legal documents containing allegations of sexual activity by Epstein and his cronies with girls who were underage in the US have yet to be released.
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