Why Ghislaine Maxwell and Jeffrey Epstein made such a ghastly pairing

Review: According to ‘Ghislaine, Prince Andrew and the Paedophile’, she ‘normalised abuse’

While delivering an effective overview of the case, the documentary does not have any new bombshells to impart. Photograph: Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

While delivering an effective overview of the case, the documentary does not have any new bombshells to impart. Photograph: Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

 

ITV’s documentary about the friendship between Prince Andrew and convicted sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell features heart-rending interviews with Maxwell’s victims. And there is a eye-rolling insight into Andrew’s privileged upbringing when a former Palace protection officer reveals the Queen’s third child kept “between 50 and 60” stuffed toys on his bed. And that he would shout at staff who failed to put them back in the order shown on a laminated card.

Yet Ghislaine, Prince Andrew and the Paedophile (ITV, Tuesday) ultimately has little new to say about the case – or about Andrew’s relationship with Maxwell’s boyfriend, Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide when awaiting trial for sex trafficking of minors. This is instead a thorough and at times unsettling chronicling of Epstein and Maxwell’s crimes as they preyed on naive young women and then used them as sexual chattel.

ITV is not all that widely watched in Ireland. And anyone who goes to the effort of tuning in to Ranvir Singh’s film may have wondered why they bothered, given that most the material presented is already in the public realm. That is no slight on Singh who does her best and brings a personal component to the story when she recalls how her trust was betrayed when, aged 12, she was abused by a man.

“She’s worse than Jeffrey…she broke that bond,” says Lisa Phillips. “She failed us. She’ll have to live with that.”

But there is a lot of raking over old ground. We are reminded how Maxwell and Andrew fell into one another’s orbit when she attended Oxford. And how her world was unmoored when her father, Robert Maxwell, died and was revealed to have helped himself to the pension funds of his employees at the Mirror group. With the family fortune gone, she had nothing to trade on aside from her name and her contacts.

This, it is explained, is why she and Epstein made for such a ghastly pairing. He’d come from nothing and somehow accumulated a fortune in finance (nobody is quite sure how he made his money). She was apparently a pauper on first name terms with a prince.

The most unsettling testimonies are from women trafficked by Maxwell and encouraged to give “massages” to Epstein. “She normalised abuse,’ says Lisa Phillips.

The point she and other survivors make is that they trusted Maxwell because she was a woman. And so her betrayal was all the more reprehensible. “She’s worse than Jeffrey…she broke that bond,” says Phillips. “She failed us. She’ll have to live with that.”

“It was a pyramid scheme with Epstein at the top,” adds lawyer Lisa Bloom, who represented Epstein’s victims at Maxwell’s trial (she awaits sentencing and faces up to 65 years in prison). “Ghislaine was the pimp or madam who brought young girls to Epstein.”

Those eager to discover what happens next to Prince Andrew will have to wait a little longer

Singh also speaks with Virginia Giuffre, who is taking a civil lawsuit against Andrew (he denies having met her or of being aware of Epstein’s predatory lifestyle during their time as friends). And there is an interview with Maxwell’s brother, Ian who insists she is innocent. “We believe her. We love her. And we hope she will get the justice she definitely deserves.” At least part of that sentiment we can all agree with wholeheartedly.

It is important that victims’ voices are heard. But while delivering an effective overview of the case, Ghislaine, Prince Andrew and the Paedophile does not have any new bombshells to impart. Those eager to discover what happens next to Andrew, who was recently stripped of his royal titles, will have to wait a little longer.

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