Sunday, August 14th, 2022

BBC criticised for giving Ian Maxwell airtime to defend sister Ghislaine | Ghislaine Maxwell

The BBC has faced further complaints over its coverage of Ghislaine Maxwell’s conviction for recruiting and grooming teenage girls after an interview with her brother on Radio 4’s flagship news programme.

Ian Maxwell made the case for his sister’s innocence on the Today programme, casting doubt on the testimony from victims and detailing plans for an appeal while Ghislaine awaits sentencing for trafficking young girls for Jeffrey Epstein to sexually abuse between 1994 and 2004.

On Thursday, the corporation was forced to admit it had not met its own editorial standards during a BBC News interview with Alan Dershowitz, Epstein’s former lawyer who has also been accused of the sexual abuse of a minor. It was inundated with complaints after Dershowitz was introduced simply as a “constitutional lawyer”, and was then allowed to attack the credibility of Virginia Roberts Giuffre.

Viewers were not told Giuffre and Dershowitz were engaged in a legal battle over the veracity of her claims that he was part of a group of powerful men to whom Epstein offered her for sex. She has also made similar claims against Prince Andrew. Both men strenuously deny the allegations.

During a five-minute interview, Ian Maxwell said while the trial had heard “heart-rending testimonies” his view was “that Ghislaine had nothing to do with it”.

“These were Epstein’s crimes and he’s not here to pay that price, and she has been made to pay the price that he should have paid,” he added.

Pressed by the interviewer Mishal Husain on whether the women who testified against Ghislaine Maxwell were lying, he replied: “Of course, the prosecution didn’t put into evidence the prior interviews they had with these accusers, which showed a completely different case. Memory is faulty, and so, in my view, the trial that has occurred was not a fair trial from Ghislaine’s perspective. And that is why she’s going to appeal, and I think she’ll be successful,.”

He said the appeal would be based on “legal grounds, both in terms of pre-trial process and indeed the trial process itself”. He also claimed that the months his sister had spent awaiting trial since her arrest at her luxurious 63-hectare (156-acre) property in New Hampshire in July 2020 had taken a toll.

Nazir Afzal, the former chief crown prosecutor for north-west England, wrote on Twitter that those who gave character references to those convicted as part of “so-called grooming gangs”, many of which were from a British Pakistani background, were “rightly shamed”.

“How is that those supporting the convicted child sex offender Ghislaine Maxwell are being given air time on national media?”

The author and criminal barrister who uses the pen name Secret Barrister tweeted: “I cannot understand why #r4today is providing a platform for family and friends of Ghislaine Maxwell to proclaim her innocence and undermine the jury’s verdicts. Is this service to be made available to all convicted sex offenders?”.

In the wake of his sister’s conviction, Ian Maxwell has also given interviews with Sky News and the Daily Telegraph.

A spokesperson for the BBC said it had “covered the guilty verdict against Ghislaine Maxwell extensively, including interviews with her victims on multiple outlets”.

“The interview on the Today Programme with Ian Maxwell was about the family’s decision to appeal the verdict; he was robustly challenged and his arguments were critiqued directly afterwards by a barrister,” it added.

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