8 Dec 2019

The hopeless hunt for Ghislaine Maxwell

From Sunday Morning, 9:42 am on 8 December 2019

The whereabouts of 57-year-old socialite Ghislaine Maxwell - the woman at the heart of the sex allegations against Prince Andrew - remains a complete mystery. 

Queen Elizabeth II,  Prince Charles 
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex 
Prince Andrew, Duke of York
at the balcony of Buckingham Palace in London, on June 08, 2019, after attending Trooping the Colour at the Horse Guards Parade, the Queens birthday parade

Photo: AFP

It has been another uncomfortable week for Prince Andrew with further revelations of his socialising with the disgraced and deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein, more calls for the Prince to go to the US and testify in sex trafficking cases being heard against Epstein, and a BBC Panorama interview with Virginia Giuffre, who's alleged she was procured, persuaded by Ms Maxwell to have sex with Prince Andrew.

Ms Maxwell was constantly at Jeffrey Epstein's side and had allegedly found young women for Epstein.

Among this past week's claims is that in 2015 Prince Andrew emailed her seeking information on Virginia Giuffre, Virginia Roberts, as she was then.

The world's media sleuths are trying to find Ms Maxwell, so far without success.

One of them is Mark Edmonds, a regular writer for publications like Tatler, the Sunday Times and the Financial Times.

Ghislaine Maxwell attends 4th Annual WIE Symposium at Center 548 on September 20, 2013 in New York City.

Ghislaine Maxwell  Photo: AFP

He said he'd knocked on a lot of doors, but some were "completely inaccessible".

"I know where she is. I don't know her address, but my contacts suggest she is with the authorities in [the United States of] America ... the FBI or some sort of law enforcement agency," he said.

"She couldn't possibly disappear, where would she go?"

She's neither been charged nor accused of anything apart from any mention in the documents from the women who have already filed affidavits against Epstein.

Mr Edmonds believed she was helping the FBI with information and would get a plea bargain in return.

"Somebody like her is not going to move to Brazil or an island off Tahiti or a weird suburb of Auckland. It's not going to happen."

Her father Robert Maxwell was a powerful figure in the media in London. 

"He owned the Daily Mirror for a period and prior to that made a lot of money in publishing. He was a real character who a lot of politicians sucked up to," Mr Edmonds said.

Ms Maxwell was his "favourite child".

She met Epstein in New York. 

"She would meet unbelievably beautiful girls in a bar in New York or in a hotel, and they'd be kind of screened, and a couple of weeks later they'd get a phone call 'Jeffrey would like to meet you'. What happens afterwards I don't know," he said.

"To be fair to her, she's not been proven guilty of anything."

Mr Edmonds said the supposition was that Epstein had the money, Ms Maxwell had the contacts.

He said she might have been the fixer but "possibly a victim too ... it was a tricky relationship".

"She's such a sort of visible person, it is impossible for her to be invisible.

"I suspect Ghislaine will pop up within the next year."

He said cooperating with authorities "was her only way out".

Many more people could be implicated eventually.

"The papers in London have been suggesting that it's unlikely that Prince Andrew would be visiting America fairly soon. It is a time bomb waiting to go off."