Her arrogance was ultimately her undoing. She could have kept silent and exercised her rights under the Fifth Amendment to the US constitution which allows people to refuse to answer questions that might incriminate them.
But that wasn’t Ghislaine Maxwell’s style. No, this articulate, self-confident and witty Oxford graduate wasn’t going to face searching questions about the alleged sex abuse of children by her paedophile friend Jeffrey Epstein and say nothing.
Silence might have suggested she was guilty and – as she insisted (even as she tried to wriggle out of question after question) – she had nothing to hide.
A transcript of an interview between an arrogant Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured) and the lawyers of ‘sex slave’ Virginia Roberts, when she was suing Maxwell for libel in 2016, have been acquired by the Mail
At deposition sessions in April 2016 and another that July after she refused to answer certain questions, Maxwell was grilled by two top New York lawyers working pro bono for Virginia Roberts.
Now 36, she claims Maxwell recruited her as an underage sex slave for Epstein’s perverted child trafficking ring.
The Mail has acquired a transcript of the video depositions in the offices of Miss Roberts’s lawyers, Boies Schiller & Flexner, when she was suing Maxwell for libel.
So cocksure was Maxwell, the entitled daughter of corrupt media mogul Robert Maxwell and friend of the super-rich and famous, she even accused Miss Roberts’s team of ‘mangling’ a question.
On another occasion, she asked one of the highly experienced lawyers to repeat a query ‘properly’.
And, needless to say, Maxwell dismissed Miss Roberts’s claims as ‘rubbish’.
To date, this is the only account by Maxwell of her notorious relationship with the child-abusing financier. In it, she certainly comes across as haughty and supercilious but, at the time, she may have felt she held the whip hand.
Epstein was still at large – he was to kill himself three years later in his New York jail cell – and had near-limitless funds to pay for the best lawyers.
Miss Roberts was an ordinary mother-of-three with no powerful friends.
Pleading her innocence and ignorance of the twisted tale of sexual slavery related by Miss Roberts, the British socialite at one point slammed her hand down on the table, projecting the very picture of injured innocence.
This month, Maxwell was dramatically seized by the FBI from her million-dollar New England hideout and is languishing on suicide watch in a grim Brooklyn jail, awaiting trial on six counts relating to trafficking girls as young as 14.
Her blithe assurances in the 2016 depositions have come back to haunt her as two of the charges are for perjury in those interviews. If convicted, she faces up to 35 years behind bars.
New York prosecutors say Maxwell, 58, lied under oath about ‘her role in facilitating the abuse of minor victims by Jeffrey Epstein’.
New York prosecutors say Maxwell (pictured right) lied under oath about ‘her role in facilitating the abuse of minor victims by Jeffrey Epstein (left)’
Her lawyers have described the charges as ‘meritless’ and she is due to appear in court on a bail hearing next week.
Despite rumours Maxwell will try to wrangle a plea deal – agreeing to lesser offences in exchange for a shorter sentence – prosecutors will face immense pressure not to agree.
This follows outrage over a 2008 deal that saw Epstein serve just 13 months in a Florida county jail and Maxwell face no charges at all.
And if there’s no deal on the table, she may never talk. Her extraordinary 2016 depositions may well be the most she ever says about the scandal.
During those sessions, Maxwell’s lawyer Jeffrey Pagliuca aggressively interrupted at every turn to object to questions by Miss Roberts’s attorneys, which Maxwell often claimed not to understand.
Asked if she had seen an underage girl at Epstein’s home, she told the surprised lawyer: ‘I have no idea what you are talking about.
‘How would I possibly know how [old] someone is? … As far as I’m concerned, everyone who came to his house was an adult professional person.’
Maxwell did not deny she was a recruiter for Epstein but insisted she was filling the myriad positions that any busy multi- millionaire might need.
‘There were six homes,’ she said. ‘I hired assistants, architects, decorators, cooks, cleaners, gardeners, pool people, pilots. I hired all sorts of people.’
Scores of alleged victims say she also hired them as underage sexual masseuses but Maxwell insisted otherwise. ‘A very small part of my job was from time to time to find adult professional massage therapists for Jeffrey,’ she said.
Photographs exist of Maxwell and Miss Roberts together all over the world – including, notoriously, with Prince Andrew in Maxwell’s London home in 2001 – but she still had difficulty recalling the girl.
Maxwell (right) has been photographed many times with Virginia Roberts (middle), including this notorious image with Prince Andrew (left) in 2001, but the Oxford graduate struggles to remember the then 17-year-old
Asked if she remembered the teenager giving massages to Epstein, Maxwell said vaguely: ‘Only in the most general terms. It would be somebody who would give him a massage, and that’s it.’
The women who massaged Epstein always ‘seemed’ to be adults, she added.
Her comments about Miss Roberts, the vulnerable child of a troubled home, dripped with disdain.
Was Virginia somebody Maxwell had considered an adult? ‘I didn’t consider her at all because she is not somebody that I really interacted with,’ she replied loftily.
She had no recollection of giving Miss Roberts, as the younger woman had claimed, a mobile phone so she was always on call.
Nor could she remember how often Miss Roberts came to Epstein’s house to massage him; she could not recall her ever coming to his New York mansion.
The lawyer had to ‘understand’, she explained, that she ‘wasn’t with Jeffrey all the time’ but ‘only’ less than half the time.
When Maxwell was presented with flight records indicating that Miss Roberts travelled repeatedly with the paedophile on his private jet, Maxwell claimed to be flummoxed as to why she was there. It wouldn’t have been her job to know. ‘He invited her,’ she said.
‘What I can say is that I barely would remember her. If not for all of this rubbish, I probably wouldn’t remember her at all, except she did come from time to time.’
But her hazy memories abruptly cleared when she claimed to spot a mistake in Miss Roberts’s recollection of her first meeting with Epstein.
While Miss Roberts said she had been driven to his Palm Beach home by her father, Maxwell insisted it was her mother.
She knew this, she said, because she had been outside chatting to her mother while Miss Roberts went inside to massage Epstein.
While Miss Roberts, then underage, has insisted she had sex with Epstein during that first massage, Maxwell argued bizarrely this would have been ‘impossible’ as she was outside with Miss Roberts’s mother ‘the entire time’.
When Miss Roberts’s lawyer tried to move on to her client’s second visit to Epstein, a flustered Maxwell objected.
She said: ‘I have been so absolutely appalled by her story… and I apologise for my banging at the table earlier, I hope you accept my apology.
‘It’s born out of years of feeling the pressure of this entire lie that she has perpetrated.’
Epstein, Maxwell alleged, received only one massage per day – nothing like the four or five others claimed.
The age of his masseuses was another issue she tried to avoid discussing.
‘I looked for people… to fill professional jobs in professional situations,’ she said. Asked bluntly if she ‘believed Jeffrey Epstein sexually abused minors’, Maxwell’s reply was a masterclass in prevarication.
Five times she repeated her mantra that she could only ‘testify’ to what she knew and what she knew was that Miss Roberts was a liar.
Asked if she had ever been involved in ‘any illegal activity’, Maxwell disclosed that she had long ago been arrested for drink-driving in the UK. It was a rare, possibly unique, admission.
Next week – four years on from her conceited encounter with Miss Roberts’s lawyers – Maxwell will again be under oath. This time, the stakes are infinitely higher.
£4million bid for freedom: Maxwell offers huge bail sum as she paints herself as victim of witch hunt
From Daniel Bates in New York and Stephen Wright in London
Ghislaine Maxwell offered up a £4million bail package to be freed from jail – as she painted herself as the victim of a witch hunt and proclaimed her innocence last night.
The British socialite, who is accused of procuring girls as young as 14 for her friend American paedophile Jeffrey Epstein, said she intends to fight charges against her, saying she is ‘entitled to the presumption of innocence’.
Her comments come as scores of women have alleged they were recruited by her as teenagers – and then abused by financier Epstein.
Ghislaine Maxwell (pictured) has offered up to £4million in a bail package bid to free her from jail and she shows her desire to fight the charges placed against her
Some say they were trafficked around the world and passed around rich and powerful men.
Maxwell also introduced Epstein to Prince Andrew, who has been dragged into the controversy after he was accused of sleeping with teenager Virginia Roberts, who claims she was trafficked by Epstein and loaned out for sex.
In the bombshell bail document, filed to a New York court last night, Miss Maxwell claimed she had not had contact with the US billionaire for more than a decade – and accused prosecutors of ‘trying to substitute her for Epstein’.
She claimed she had spent recent months living in fear for herself, her family and her friends – and had received death threats.
But the daughter of late British newspaper tycoon Robert also revealed her family are standing by her as she put up more than £2.9million in UK-based properties for her bail.
Scores of women have come forward claiming that alleged they were recruited by Maxwell (pictured left) as teenagers – and then abused by financier Jeffrey Epstein (right)
And in an attempt to convince prosecutors she is not a danger to children, she told of how she was a godmother and enjoyed close relationships with her nieces and nephews.
Breaking her silence after being arrested in an FBI raid on the US home she was hiding out in, in a 26-page filing from her lawyers, Maxwell depicted herself as a victim of an ‘open season’ by the press.
The 58-year-old is currently being held in a grim New York jail ahead of a court appearance next week.
Her lawyers hope their application will mean she can wait out her legal battle at home. They warned that by keeping her in jail, prosecutors were putting her at risk of contracting coronavirus, which could hamper any potential trial.
Victims of Epstein allege they were abused over many years, with many claiming they were recruited by Maxwell. The investigation has been focused on Maxwell since Epstein took his own life while awaiting trial in a US jail last year.
But last night Maxwell hit back, with her team writing: ‘Sometimes the simplest point is the most critical one: Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein.’
She also accused American prosecutors of mounting a publicity campaign by detaining her to coincide with the one-year anniversary of Epstein’s arrest.
In the hope of being freed from jail, she said she would wear an electronic tag, give up her British, US and French passports and stay in New York.
Her family have also agreed to co-sign her bail applications.
And despite being branded a ‘flight risk’ by prosecutors, she claimed she had not left the US for a year.
The document represents Maxwell’s fullest response to the allegations against her since her arrest last Thursday at a $1million mansion in New Hampshire. She stands accused of procuring girls for Epstein to sexually assault – and even taking part in the abuse herself.
The indictment identifies three victims covering the period 1994 to 1997, when she was reportedly Epstein’s girlfriend.
In a bid to clear her name, the Oxford graduate (pictured) has stated: ‘Ghislaine Maxwell is not Jeffrey Epstein’
She is being held at the grim Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn and is due to appear in a federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday via videolink, where a judge will decide on giving her bail.
In the document, Maxwell’s lawyers Mark Cohen and Jeff Pagliuca wrote: ‘Ms Maxwell vigorously denies the charges, intends to fight them, and is entitled to the presumption of innocence… she should be treated like any other defendant who comes before this court, including as to bail’.
A catalogue of factors mean Maxwell should be freed, the first being that prosecutors could not show she was a ‘danger to the community’, they said.
Six people, made up of friends and relatives who ‘continue to support her’ despite ‘unrelenting media attacks’, are willing to co-sign her bail.
They have volunteered to assume responsibility for the ‘extremely large bond’ of £4million, which includes ‘stringent travel and physical restrictions’.
In their filing, her lawyers refuted the prosecution claim that Maxwell represents an ‘extreme’ flight risk.
The bail documents published last night repeatedly sought to paint her as a victim.
Maxwell’s bail documents, published last night, have sought to paint her as the victim
The dossier states: ‘On August 10, 2019, Epstein died in federal custody, and the media focus quickly shifted to our client – wrongly trying to substitute her for Epstein – even though she’d had no contact with Epstein for more than a decade, had never been charged with a crime or been found liable in any civil litigation, and has always denied any allegations of claimed misconduct.’
The lawyers added: ‘The “open season” declared on Ms Maxwell after Epstein’s death has come with an even darker cost – she has been the target of alarming physical threats, even death threats, and has had to hire security guards to ensure her safety.’
Maxwell’s arrest marks a stunning fall from grace for a woman who was once feted by New York society and counted many high-profile British names as friends.
She was also close to Prince Andrew and introduced him to Epstein for a friendship which lasted at least 11 years.
Miss Roberts claims she was forced to have sex with Andrew three times at Epstein’s bidding, allegations the Duke strenuously denies.
Last night Maxwell indicated she is also planning to contest the legal validity of the charges, arguing that a non-prosecution deal Epstein made back in 2007 with federal prosecutors in Florida bars her from going on trial.