Her TV appearance shows she will only protect Epstein's friends for so long
If nothing else, Ghislaine Behind Bars — Ghislaine Maxwell’s exclusive interview for TalkTV, aired last night — gave an interesting insight into the realities of life in a low-security American prison. We learnt, for instance, that inmates are expected to make their beds “military style” and that the meat-free meal options usually feature either beans or tofu, although the latter is so bereft of seasoning that it is almost unpalatable. Not quite The Shawshank Redemption, then, but not much fun for a woman who has probably never before been tasked with making her own bed.
All in all, this was an odd spectacle, with no more than 20 minutes of grainy interview footage spun out into an hour-long special, complete with TV psychologists and legal commentary. Maxwell speaks in an English drawl with occasional Americanisms, rearranges her hair frequently, and refuses to apologise to her victims. Her manner has widely been branded as “narcissistic”, which is hardly surprising in a convicted sex offender.
What’s really interesting about the interview, though, is the process of escalation. Back in October of last year Maxwell gave her first interview from prison, during which she spoke of her “dear friend” Prince Andrew in a way that must have made the Buckingham Palace communications team wince. But last night’s interview was longer and more detailed, offering more meat to the media, rather than just unseasoned tofu.
Among several explosive claims, Maxwell insisted that her boss-lover-accomplice Jeffrey Epstein was murdered, and that the negligent prison authorities were to blame. “I say Epstein has died,” she replied when asked if she had a message for his victims, “and they should take their disappointment and upset out on the authorities who allowed that to happen.”
We can assume from these statements that Maxwell also considers herself to be at risk of murder in prison. Close observers of her case have noted that the surveillance cameras witnesses claim were fitted in bedrooms in Epstein’s many properties could well have been used for the purpose of collecting material to be used for blackmail, suggesting that any number of Epstein’s rich and powerful friends could have had a motivation to see him silenced.
It was widely assumed at the time of her conviction that Maxwell was not going to spill the beans on the other men involved in Epstein’s sex trafficking ring, including the high-profile passengers who flew on the so-called ‘Lolita Express.’ Maxwell’s brother Ian told the Sunday Times at the time that the prosecution had “confirmed no plea bargain offers were made or received” before the trial, and that “I expect that position to be maintained.”
But 20 years of incarceration is a long time. In the seven months since her conviction Maxwell has now blabbed to the media twice, with increasing candour. We know that she resents her public portrayal as “the cruellest, meanest, most poisonous person” and we know that she is “depressed” in prison. She is determined to appeal her conviction, and we learnt from Ghislaine Behind Bars that she gets through her days by focusing on the hope of release.
Maxwell’s belief that Epstein was murdered may well have stopped her from flipping, for fear of suffering the same fate. But the public has an insatiable appetite for more and more coverage of this compelling case, and Maxwell’s life in prison may be miserable enough to make the risks of a plea bargain seem worth it.
It is likely that Maxwell will not only continue to give interviews, but also that she will eventually decide to stop protecting the ‘Lolita Express’ passengers. When that happens, the ensuing carnage will make Prince Andrew’s public disgrace look like a warm-up act.