Ghislaine Maxwell’s family launch operation to get her out of New York prison

Robert Mendick
·4-min read
Ghislaine Maxwell photographed in February 2011 -  Credit: 
Ghislaine Maxwell photographed in February 2011 - Credit:

Ghislaine Maxwell’s family have launched “Operation GGO” – a “get Ghislaine out of jail" campaign, complaining that her human rights have been violated in a New York prison.

The heiress, on remand for child sex trafficking charges linked to disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, has been the victim of “cruel” and “vindictive” treatment by the US authorities, it is claimed.

Brian Basham, a public relations veteran and close friend of the family, has alleged that Ms Maxwell has lost 25lbs while in jail and that when she complained, the prison authorities simply removed her scales to prevent her from recording any further weight loss.

Ms Maxwell, a vegan, was not being fed a proper diet and went 20 hours without food in recent days, he said.

He also complained that she was forced to wear clothes made of paper and was refused permission to wear a bra because of fears she is a suicide risk.

Prison guards, he said, have stopped talking to her and she is in isolation in a cell 9ft by 7ft. Letters from family have not reached her, Mr Basham has alleged.

Epstein killed himself in a New York jail last year while awaiting trial.

Mr Basham has now offered his services to the family for free to secure her bail before a trial on six counts relating to child sex trafficking and procurement charges and perjury due to take place next summer.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell photographed together in 2005 - Patrick McMullan
Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell photographed together in 2005 - Patrick McMullan

Ms Maxwell, who was arrested in July, faces a year in jail before trial after being deemed a flight risk. She was denied bail despite her lawyers offering a $5 million (£4 million) bond.

He said he volunteered for the campaign “because I thought that the dog and pony show put on by the Department of Justice and the FBI had attempted to whip what I think of as a lynch mob into further frenzy”.

In more than 400 pages of transcript of a deposition given in 2016 and made public on Thursday, Ms Maxwell repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, including a claim that in 2001 she had trafficked a teenage girl to London to have sex with her friend the Duke of York. He also denies the allegations.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre is the most visible of Epstein’s accusers. She alleges she was recruited aged 16 from her workplace at Donald Trump’s hotel Mar-a-Lago by Ms Maxwell. She claims she was made to have sex with a number of Epstein’s friends, including the Duke, which he denies. She has filed lawsuits against Ms Maxwell, who accused Ms Roberts Giuffre of lying.

Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the woman who claims she was trafficked by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein
Virginia Roberts Giuffre, the woman who claims she was trafficked by billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein

In her first interview since Ms Maxwell’s deposition was made public, Ms Roberts Giuffre told NBC’s Today programme in the US: “I have done nothing but tell the truth. In every affidavit, every interview, every deposition, I know I have the truth on my side, I know she doesn’t.”

Mr Basham said it was outrageous that Ms Maxwell had been deprived bail in contrast to Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, both of them convicted sex offenders. “Both Weinstein and Cosby were given bail and they were men who were a danger to women. That can’t be said of Ghislaine at all,” he said.

Mr Basham is insistent Ms Maxwell poses no flight risk. He said her possession of three passports when detained by the FBI and the fact she was living in the US proved she had no intention of fleeing the country. “One of the passports is a French passport. From the moment Jeffrey Epstein was arrested she could have gone to France, but she stayed,” said Mr Basham.

“She is unable to talk to her sisters and their letters are being vindictively not given to her. She is a vegan and she is not getting the proper nutrition. She has lost 25lbs in jail but when she complained they took away her weighing machine so she could not weigh herself. It is vindictive and cruel.

“She is in a cell 9ft by 7ft on a floor of the prison with no one else on it. The last I heard is that the guards have now stopped speaking to her so she is very much in isolation. I am told that none of the members of the family have been able to visit or talk to her directly.”