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Thursday, 29 March, 2001, 09:09 GMT 10:09 UK
Kevin and Ian Maxwell

Like many self-made men, Robert Maxwell wanted to build a dynasty.

He had nine children, and two followed him into his business, Kevin and Ian.

Their life story thus far has been a story of before and after. Before their father died in November 1991, they both held high-level positions in the Maxwell group.
Kevin Maxwell
Jubilant Kevin following his acquittal

After his death, they were embroiled in a lengthy, expensive court case from which they were acquitted.

Since then, they have both run their own businesses.


Many tycoons seek to build dynasties and many fail.

Ian, the eldest, was widely seen as the publisher, while Kevin, three years younger, was seen by some as the "wheeler dealer".

It is clear that in his relationship with his sons, Robert Maxwell dominated, placing them under tremendous pressure.

In a letter to his father in 1988, quoted by Tom Bower in Maxwell, the Final Verdict, Kevin Maxwell wrote: "You are my teacher and all my life you have tried to demonstrate the principles underlying every action or inaction...Above all, you have given me the sense of excitement of having dozens of balls in the air and the thrill of seeing some of them land right."

His whole world and that of his brother crashed down around them when their father died in November 1991 and it emerged that the company's debts vastly outweighed its assets and the pension scheme had been plundered.

Less than a month after Robert Maxwell's death, the Serious Fraud Office began investigating the management of the Mirror Group pension fund, and the company's finances.

In 1996, after an eight month trial, the two brothers and Larry Trachtenberg were cleared of charges of being involved in a conspiracy to defraud company pensioners.

It took the jury 48 hours and 17 minutes across 11 nights to deliver their verdict.

The trial lasted 131 days, with the final bill some 25m and the reputation of the Serious Fraud Office in tatters.

Bullying father

Kevin spent 21 days in the witness box, many of them describing his father as a bully.

At the trial, Kevin said: " I missed him, his presence and his ability to dominate."

He emerged from that trial - acquitted of all charges - to set up business with one of the co-defendents, Larry Trachtenberg.

Now chairman of Telemonde, a telecoms supplier, the company website says that he has specialised in the telecoms industry since 1993.

In 1999, shortly before his new company Telemonde was to float on the Nasdaq, he pledged to compensate victims of the pensions scandal.

"The moral burden that I bear, I will bear for the rest of my life. It doesn't go away," he said.

Telemonde web graphic
Kevin Maxwell's new telecoms company
"The fact that technically, my bankruptcy has been discharged, and I'm not legally responsible, in no way minimises the moral burden that I carry," he said.

"At the present moment, I'm not in any condition to make a contribution, large or small, but obviously I hope that in the future I may be... in a position to do something," he said.

Kevin Maxwell

Kevin, born in 1959, shares the same academic background with his brother, attending first Marlborough and then Oxford.

Chairman of Maxwell Communications Corporation and Macmillan in 1991, he was also chairman of Oxford United FC in 1991.

He married Pandora Warnford-Davis in 1984, with whom he has two sons and four daughters.

Russian link

Ian Maxwell has also rebuilt his career following the dissolution of the Maxwell group.

Since 1995, he has been a publisher at Maximov Publications, which specialises in publications about Russia and the former Soviet countries.

Born in 1956, Ian cut his career teeth at Pergamon Press, the business his father founded, between 1978 and 1983.

Following a stint at the Prince's Charitable Trust, he rejoined the family fold, this time at British Printing and Communications Corporation, later Maxwell Communications Corporation until 1991. He was chairman and publisher of Mirror Group Newspapers and the European in 1991, the year his father died.

Married to Laura Plumb at the time of the trial, he remarried in 1999, to Tara Dudley Smith.

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